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CHRISTIANITY AND THE 
SOCIAL CRISIS 



CHRISTIANITY AND THE 
SOCIAL CRISIS 



BY 



WALTER RAUSCHENBUSCH 

F1OFESSOR OF CHURCH HISTORY IN ROCHESTER THEOLOGICAL 
SEMINARY 



TStto ||0tfc 
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

LONDON : MACMILLAN ft CO., LTD. 

I92O 
All rights rts* 



COPYRIGHT, 
THE MACTVUI^ATST 



t*p auad elcc 1 1 or y jp^J , Published 



Oo. Berwick Jb Bmlth Oo. 



So 

THE WOMEN WHO HAVE LOVED ME 

MY MOTHER 

MY SISTERS FRIDA AND EMMA 
MY DEAR WIFE PAULINE 

AND 
MY LITTLE DAUGHTERS WINIFRED AND ELIZABETH 

THIS BOOK 
IS LOVINGLY INSCRIBED 



THY KINGDOM COMB/ 
THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH/ 



CONTENTS 

PACK 

INTRODUCTION xi 

CHAPTER I 

THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY THE HEBREW 
PROPHETS 

Historical importance of the prophets Their religion ethical 
and therefore social Their morality public and not pnvate. 
Their sympathy with the oppressed The effect of their social 
interest on their religious development Later religious indi- 
vidualism a triumph of faith, but not pure gam The prophetic 
hope of social perfection The ' pessimism " of the prophets. 
Summary I 

CHAPTER II 

THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 

The new social interpretation of the gospel Jesus not a social 
reformer, but a religious initiator Significance of his relations 
to John the Baptist. The kingdom of God his aim , its pre- 
vious meaning , his changes in the ideal , the persistence of 
its social essence. The ethics of the new society. Christ's 
indifference to ritual and his insistence on social morality. 
His teachings on wealth His social affinities. His revolu- 
tionary consciousness 44 

CHAPTER III 

THE SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY 

The probability of a gap between Jesus and his followers The 
limitations of our information. The hope of the coming of 
vn 



Viii CONTENTS 

FAG* 

the Lord. The revolutionary character of the millennial hope. 
The political consciousness of Christians. The society-mak- 
ing force of primitive Christianity. The so-called communism 
at Jerusalem. The primitive churches as fraternal communi- 
ties. The leaven of Christian democracy. The outcome of 
the discussion 93 

CHAPTER IV 

WHY HAS CHRISTIANITY NEVER UNDERTAKEN THE WORK 
OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION? 

The problem stated. Impossibility of any social propaganda in 
the first centuries. Postponement to the Lord's coming. 
Hostility to the Empire and its civilization. The limitations 
of primitive Christianity and their perpetuation. The other- 
worldlmess of Christianity. The ascetic tendency. Monas- 
ticism. Sacramentahsm. The dogmatic interest. The 
churchliness of Christianity. Subservience to the State. 
The disappearance of church democracy. The lack of sci- 
entific comprehension of social development. Results of the 
discussion. The passing of these causes in modern life. 
Conclusion 143 

CHAPTER V 
THE PRESENT CRISIS 

A prelude. The industrial revolution. The land and the people. 
Work and wages. The morale of the workers. The physi- 
cal decline of the people. The wedge of inequality. The 
crumbling of political democracy. The tainting of the moral 
atmosphere. The undermining of the family. The fell or 
the rise of Christian civilization 211 

CHAPTER VI 

THE STAKE OF THE CHURCH IN THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 

The purpose of this chapter. The Church and its real estate. 
The Church and its income. The volunteer workers of the 



CONTENTS 

Church. The supply and spirit of the ministry. The Church 
and poverty. The Church and its human material. The 
hostile ethics of commercialism. Christian civilization and 
foreign missions. The Church and the working class. 
The forward call to the Church 387 

CHAPTER VII 
WHAT TO Do 

No thoroughfare. 11 Social repentance and faith. Social evan- 
gelization. The pulpit and the social question. The Chris- 
tian conception of life and property. The creation of 
customs and institutions. Stewardship and ownership. 
Solidarity and communism. The upward movement of the 
working class. Summary of the argument. The new aposto- 
late , 343 



INTRODUCTION 

WESTERN civilization is passing through a social revolu- 
tion unparalleled in history for scope and power. Its com- 
ing was inevitable. The religious, political, and intellectual 
revolutions of the past five centuries, which together 
created the modern world, necessarily had to culminate 
in an economic and social revolution such as is now 
upon us. 

By universal consent, this social crisis is the overshad- 
owing problem of our generation. The industrial and 
commercial life of the advanced nations are in the throes 
of it. In politics all issues and methods are undergoing 
upheaval and re-alignment as the social movement ad- 
vances. In the world of thought all the young and serious 
minds are absorbed in the solution of the social problems. 
Even literature and art point like compass-needles to this 
magnetic pole of all our thought. 

The social revolution has been slow in reaching our 
country. We have been exempt, not because we had 
solved the problems, but because we had not yet confronted 
them. We have now arrived, and all the characteristic 
conditions of American life will henceforth combine to 
make the social struggle here more intense than anywhere 
else. The vastness and the free sweep of our concentrated 
wealth on the one side, the independence, intelligence, 
moral vigor, and political power of the common people on 

xi 



Xii INTRODUCTION 

the other side, promise a long-drawn grapple of contesting 
forces which may well make the heart of every American 
patriot sink within him. 

It is realized by friend and foe that religion can play, 
and must play, a momentous part in this irrepressible 
conflict. 

The Church, the organized expression of the religious 
life of the past, is one of the most potent institutions and 
forces in Western civilization. Its favor and moral influ- 
ence are wooed by all parties. It cannot help throwing 
its immense weight on one side or the other. If it tries 
not to act, it thereby acts ; and in any case its choice will 
be decisive for its own future. 

Apart from the organized Church, the religious spirit is 
a factor of incalculable power in the making of history. 
In the idealistic spirits that lead and in the masses that 
follow, the religious spirit always intensifies thought, en- 
larges hope, unfetters daring, evokes the willingness to 
sacrifice, and gives coherence in the fight. Under the 
warm breath of religious faith, all social institutions become 
plastic. The religious spirit removes mountains and 
tramples on impossibilities. Unless the economic and 
intellectual factors are strongly reenforced by religious 
enthusiasm, the whole social movement may prove abor- 
tive, and the New Era may die before it comes to birth. 

It follows that the relation between Christianity and the 
social crisis is one of the most pressing questions for all 
intelligent men who realize the power of religion, and 
most of all for the religious leaders of the people who give 
direction to the forces of religion. 

The question has, in fact, been discussed frequently and 
earnestly, but it is plain to any thoughtful observer that 



INTRODUCTION x 

the common mind of the Christian Church in America has 
not begun to arrive at any solid convictions or any perma- 
nent basis of action. The conscience of Christendom is 
halting and groping, perplexed by contradicting voices, 
still poorly informed on essential questions, justly reluctant 
to part with the treasured maxims of the past, and yet 
conscious of the imperious call of the future. 

This book is to serve as a contribution to this discussion. 
Its first chapters are historical, for nothing is more needed 
than a true comprehension of past history if we are to 
forecast the future correctly and act wisely in the present 
I have tried to set forth the religious development of the 
prophets of Israel, the life and teachings of Jesus, and 
the dominant tendencies of primitive Christianity, in order 
to ascertain what was the original and fundamental pur- 
pose of the great Christian movement in history. Every 
discussion of the question which appeals to history has to 
cover this ground, but usually only detached fragments 
of the material are handled at all, and often without insight 
adequate to give their true meaning even to these frag- 
ments. I am in hopes that these chapters will contribute 
some facts and points of view that have not yet become 
common property. 

The outcome of these first historical chapters is that 
the essential purpose of Christianity was to transform 
human society into the kingdom of God by regenerating 
all human relations and reconstituting them in accord- 
ance with the will of God. The fourth chapter raises the 
question why the Christian Church has never undertaken 
to carry out this fundamental purpose of its existence. 
I have never met with any previous attempt to give a 
satisfactory historical explanation of this failure, and I 



dv INTRODUCTION 

regard this chapter as one of the most important in the 
book. 

The fifth chapter sets forth the conditions which con- 
stitute the present social crisis and which imperatively 
demand of Christianity that contribution of moral and 
religious power which it was destined to furnish. 

The sixth chapter points out that the Church, as such, 
has a stake in the social movement. The Church owns 
property, needs income, employs men, works on human 
material, and banks on its moral prestige. Its present 
efficiency and future standing are bound up for ^eal or 
woe with the social welfare of the people and with the 
outcome of the present struggle. 

The last chapter suggests what contributions Christianity 
can make and in what main directions the religious spirit 
should exert its force. 

In covering so vast a field of history and in touching on 
such a multitude of questions, error and incompleteness 
are certain, and the writer can claim only that he has tried 
to do honest work. Moreover, it is impossible to handle 
questions so vital to the economic, the social, and the moral 
standing of great and antagonistic classes of men, without 
jarring precious interests and convictions, and without 
giving men the choice between the bitterness of social 
repentance and the bitterness of moral resentment. I can 
frankly affirm that I have written with malice toward none 
and with charity for all. Even where I ,udge men to have 
done wrong, I find it easy to sympathize with them in the 
temptations which made the wrong almost inevitable, and 
in the points of view in which they intrench themselves 
to save their self-respect. I have tried so far as err- 
ing human judgment permits to lift the issues out of the 



INTRODUCTION XV 

plane of personal selfishness and hate, and to put them 
where the white light of the just and pitying spirit of 
Jesus can play upon them. If I have failed in that effort, 
it is my sin. If others in reading fail to respond in the 
same spirit, it is their sin. In a few years all our restless 
and angry hearts will be quiet in death, but those who 
come after us will live in the world which our sins have 
blighted or which our love of right has redeemed. Let 
us do our thinking on these great questions, not with our 
eyes fixed on our bank account, but with a wise outlook on 
the fields of the future and with the consciousness that the 
spirit of the Eternal is seeking to distil from our lives some 
essence of righteousness before they pass away. 

I have written this book to discharge a debt. For 
eleven years I was pastor among the working people on 
the West Side of New York City. I shared their life as 
well as I then knew, and used up the early strength of my 
life in their service. In recent years my work has been 
turned into other channels, but I have never ceased to feel 
that I owe help to the plain people who were my friends. 
If this book in some far-off way helps to ease the pressure 
that bears them down and increases the forces that bear 
them up, I shall meet the Master of my life with better 
confidence. 



CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL 
CRISIS 



CHAPTER I 

THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY: THE HEBREW 
PROPHETS 

IT seems a long start to approach the most modem 
problems by talking of men who lived before Lycurgus and 
Solon gave laws to Sparta and Athens. What light can we 
get on the troubles of the great capitalistic republic of the 
West from men who tended sheep in Judea or meddled in 
the petty politics of the Semitic tribes ? 

History is never antiquated, because humanity is always 
fundamentally the same. It is always hungry for bread, 
sweaty with labor, struggling to wrest from nature and 
hostile men enough to feed its children. The welfare of the 
mass is always at odds with the selfish force of the strong. 
The exodus of the Roman plebeians and the Pennsylvania 
coal strike, the agrarian agitation of the Gracchi and the 
rising of the Russian peasants, it is all the same tragic 
human life. And in all history it would be hard to find any 
chapter so profoundly instructive, and dignified by such 
sublime passion and ability, as that in which the prophets 
took the leading part. 



2 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

Moreover, the life and thought of the Old Testament 
prophets are more to us than classical illustrations and side- 
lights. They are an integral part of the thought-life of 
Christianity. From the beginning the Christian Church 
appropriated the Bible of Israel as its own book and thereby 
made the history of Israel part of the history of Christen- 
dom. That history lives in the heart of the Christian na- 
tions with a very real spiritual force. The average American 
knows more about David than about King Arthur, and 
more about the exodus from Egypt than about the emigra- 
tion of the Puritans. Throughout the Christian centuries 
the historical material embodied in the Old Testament has 
been regarded as not merely instructive, but as authorita- 
tive. The social ideas drawn from it have been powerful 
factors in all attempts of Christianity to influence social 
and political life. In so far as men have attempted to use 
the Old Testament as a code of model laws and institutions 
and have applied these to modern conditions, regardless of the 
historical connections, these attempts have Mt a trail of 
blunder and disaster. In so far as they have caught the spirit 
that burned in the hearts of the prophets and breathed 
in gentle humanity through the Mosaic Law, the influence of 
the Old Testament has been one of the great permanent 
forces making for democracy and social justice. However 
our views of the Bible may change, every religious man 
will continue to recognize that to the elect minds of the 
Jewish people God gave so vivid a consciousness of the 
divine will that, in its main tendencies at least, their life 
and thought carries a permanent authority for all who wish 
to know the higher right of God. Their writings are like 
channel-buoys anchored by God, and we shall do well to 



THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY 3 

heed them now that the roar of an angry surf is in oui 
ears. 

We shall confine this brief study of the Old Testament to 
the prophets, because they are the beating heart of the Old 
Testament. Modern study has shown that they were the 
real makers of the unique religious life of Israel. If all that 
proceeded from them, directly or indirectly, were eliminated 
from the Old Testament, there would be little left to appeal 
to the moral and religious judgment of the modern world. 
Moreover, a comprehension of the essential purpose and 
spirit of the prophets is necessary for a comprehension of 
the purpose and spirit of Jesus and of genuine Christianity. 
In Jesus and the primitive Church the prophetic spirit 
rose from the dead. To the ceremonial aspects of Jewish 
religion Jesus was either indifferent or hostile; the thought 
of the prophets was the spiritual food that he assimilated 
in his own process of growth. With them he linked his 
points of view, the convictions which he regarded as axio- 
matic. Their spirit was to him what the soil and climate 
of a country are to its flora. The real meaning of his life 
and the real direction of his purposes can be understood only 
in that historical connection. 

Thus a study of the prophets is not only an interest- 
ing part in the history of social movements but it is indis- 
pensable for any full comprehension of the social influence 
exerted by historical Christianity, and for any true com- 
prehension of the mind of Jesus Christ. 

For the purposes of this book it is not necessary to follow 
the work of the prophets in their historical sequence. We 
shall simply try to lay bare those large and permanent 
characteristics which are common to that remarkable series 
of men and which bear on the question in hand. 



4 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

ReHgion The fundamental conviction of the prophets, which dis 
therefore tinguished them from the ordinary religious life of their day, 
ncx?l> was the conviction that God demands righteousness and 
demands nothing but righteousness. 

Primitive religions consisted mainly in the worship of the 
powers of nature. Each tribe worshipped its local tribal 
god, who dwelt in some gloomy ravine or on some mountain- 
top and sent rain and fertility to his people when he was 
pleased, or drought and pestilence on crops and herds when 
he was offended. Like every other despot, the god must be 
kept in good humor by valuable gifts and prayers, offered in 
the right places, in the right manner, and by the duly qualified 
persons. If the sacrifices were neglected, the god was sure 
to be angry and then had to be propitiated by redoubled 
offerings, incantations, and dances. There was always some 
connection between religion and morality. It was always un- 
derstood that the tribal god had instituted the tribal customs 
and was displeased with any violation of them. But the 
essential thing in religion was not morality, but the ceremonial 
method of placating the god, securing his gifts, and ascertain- 
ing his wishes. He might even be pleased best by immoral 
actions, by the immolation of human victims, by the sacrifice 
of woman's chastity, or by the burning of the first-born. 

In the primitive life of the Israelitish tribes the religion of 
the common folk was probably much of this kind. Jehovah 
was the tribal god of Israel. Fortunately he was stronger 
and more terrible than the gods of the neighboring tribes, so 
that he was able to drive them out and give their land to his 
own people, but he was not fundamentally different from 
them and they were believed to be quite as real as Jehovah. 
There were certain forms of moral evil which he hated and 



THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY 5 

certain social duties which he loved and blessed, but the 
surest way of remaining in his favor was to sacrifice dulj 
and plentifully. If a man had offended against his fellow 
or his tribe, Jehovah would forgive when the rich smell of 
burnt meat filled his nostrils. 

Against this current conception of religion the prophets 
insisted on a right life as the true worship of God. Morality 
to them was not merely a prerequisite of effective ceremonial 
worship. They brushed sacrificial ritual aside altogether as 
trifling compared with righteousness, nay, as a harmful sub- 
stitute and a hindrance for ethical religion. "I desire good- 
ness and not sacrifice," said Hosca, 1 and Jesus was fond of 
quoting the words. The Book of Isaiah begins with a de- 
scription of the disasters which had overtaken the nation, 
and then in impassioned words the prophet spurns the means 
taken to appease Jehovah's anger. He said the herds of 
beasts trampling his temple-court, the burning fat, the reek 
of blood, the clouds of incense, were a weariness and an 
abomination to the God whom they were meant to please. 
Their festivals and solemn meetings, their prayers and pros- 
trations, were iniquity from which he averted his face. What 
he wanted was a right life and the righting of social wrongs : 
" Your hands are full of blood. Wash you ! Make you clean ! 
Put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes I 
Cease to do evil ! Learn to do right ! Seek justice ! Re- 
lieve the oppressed ! Secure justice for the orphaned and 
plead for the widow." 2 

Perhaps the simplest and most beautiful expression of that 
reformatory conception of true religion is contained in the 
words of Micah: " Wherewith shall I come before Jehovah, 

1 Hosea 6. 6. 2 Isaiah i. 10-17. 



6 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

and bow myself before the high God ? Shall I come before 
him with burnt-offerings, with calves a year old ? Will Jehovah 
be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands 
of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my trans- 
gression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He 
hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth 
Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, 
and to walk humbly with thy God ?" l 

Amos and Jeremiah even tried to cut away the foundation 
of antiquity on which the sacrificial system rested, by deny- 
ing that God had commanded sacrifices at all when he con- 
stituted the nation after the exodus from Egypt. Obedience 
was all that he had required. 2 

This insistence on religious morality as the only thing God 
cares about is of fundamental importance for the question 
before us The social problems are moral problems on a 
large scale. Religion is a tremendous generator of self- 
sacrificing action. Under its impulse men have burned up 
the animals they had laboriously raised; they have sacrificed 
their first-born whom they loved and prized ; they have tap] )cd 
their own veins and died with a shout of triumph. But this 
unparalleled force has been largely diverted to ceremonial 
actions which wasted property and labor, and were either 
useless to social health or injurious to it. In so far as men 
believed that the traditional ceremonial was what God 
wanted of them, they would be indifferent to the reformation 
of sociai ethics. If the hydraulic force of religion could be 
turned toward conduct, there is nothing which it could not 
accomplish. 

1 Micah 6. 6-8. See also Psalm 40. 6, 50. 8-15, 51. 16-17. 

2 Amos 5 25 , Jeremiah 7 22-23 



THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY 1 

This is still a living question. Under the influence of non- 
Christian customs and conceptions Christianity early devel- 
oped its own ceremonial system. It is, of course, far more 
refined. Our places of worship have no stench of blood and en- 
trails; our priests are not expert butchers But the immense 
majority of people in Christendom have holy places, where 
they recite a sacred ritual and go through sacred motions. 
They receive holy food and submit to washings that cleanse 
from sin. They have a priesthood with magic powers which 
offers a bloodless sacrifice. This Christian ritual grew up, 
not as the appropriate and aesthetic expression of spiritual 
emotions, but as the indispensable means of pleasing and 
appeasing God, and of securing his favors, temporal and 
eternal, for those who put their heart into these processes. 
This Christian ceremonial system does not differ essentially 
from that against which the prophets protested ; with a few 
verbal changes their invectives would still apply. But the 
point that here concerns us is that a very large part of the 
fervor of willing devotion which religion always generates in 
human hearts has spent itself on these religious acts. The 
force that would have been competent to "seek justice and 
relieve the oppressed" has been consumed in weaving the 
tinsel fringes for the garment of religion. 

The prophets were the heralds of the fundamental truth 
that religion and ethics are inseparable, and that ethical 
conduct is the supreme and sufficient religious act. If that 
principle had been fully adopted in our religious life, it would 
have turned the full force of the religious impulse into the 
creation of right moral conduct and would have made the 
unchecked growth and accumulation of injustice impossible. 
This assertion can be verified by history. The Calvinistic 



tf CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

Reformation stripped off a large part of the traditional cere* 
monial of the Church and it turned religious energy into 
political and intellectual channels. As a consequence the 
Calvinistic peoples at once leaped forward in the direction of 
democracy and education, and received such an increment of 
social efficiency that in spite of terrible handicaps they out- 
stripped the stronger nations which failed to make this fuller 
connection between religion and social morality. 

It is important to note, further, that the morality which the 
prophets had in mind in their strenuous insistence on right- 
iublic and eousness was not merely the private morality of the home, 
but the public morality on which national life is founded. 
They said less about the pure heart for the individual than of 
just institutions for the nation. We are accustomed to con- 
nect piety with the thought of private virtues; the pious man 
is the quiet, temperate, sober, kindly man. The evils against 
which we contend in the churches are intemperance, un- 
chastity, the sins of the tongue. The twin-evil against which 
the prophets launched the condemnation of Jehovah was 
injustice and oppression. 

The religious ideal of Israel was the theocracy. But the 
theocracy meant the complete penetration of the national life 
by religious morality It meant politics in the name of God. 
That line by which we have tacitly separated the domain of 
public affairs and the domain of Christian life was unknown 
to them. 

The prophets were not religious individualists. During the 
classical times of prophetism they always dealt with Israel 
and Judah as organic totalities. They conceived of their 
people as a gigantic personality which sinned as one and 



THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY 9 

ought to repent as one. When they speak of their nation as 
a virgin, as a city, as a vine, they are attempting by these 
figures of speech to express this organic and corporate social 
life. In this respect they anticipated a modern conception 
which now underlies our scientific comprehension of social 
development and on which modern historical studies are based. 
We shall see that it was only when the national life of Israel 
was crushed by foreign invaders that the prophets began to 
address themselves to the individual life and lost the large 
horizon of public life. 

The prophets were public men and their interest was in 
public affairs. Some of them were statesmen of the highest 
type. All of them interpreted pa^t history, shaped present 
history, and foretold future history on the basis of the con- 
viction that God rules with righteousness in the affairs of 
nations, and that only what is just, and not what is expedient 
and profitable, shall endure. Samuel was the creator of two 
dynasties. Nathan and Gad were the political advisers of 
David. Nathan determined the succession of Solomon. The 
seed of revolutionary aspirations against the dynasty of David 
was dropped into the heart of Jeroboam by the prophet 
Ahijah of Shiloh. Some of the prophets would get short 
shrift in a European State as religious demagogues. The 
overthrow of the dynasty of Omri in the Northern Kingdom 
was the result of a conspiracy between the prophetic party 
under Elisha and General Jehu, and resulted in a massacre 
BO fearful that it staggered even the Oriental political con- 
science. On the other hand the insight of Isaiah into the 
international situation of his day saved his people for a long 
time from being embroiled in the destructive upheavals that 
buried other peoples, and gave it thirty years of peace amid 



10 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

almost universal war. The sufferings of Jeremiah came upon 
him chiefly because he took the unpopular side in national 
politics. If he and others had confined themselves to "reli- 
gion," they could have said what they liked. 

Our modern religious horizon and our conception of the 
character of a religious leader and teacher are so different 
that it is not easy to understand men who saw the province 
of religion chiefly in the broad reaches of civic affairs and 
international relations. Our philosophical and economic 
individualism has affected our religious thought so deeply 
that we hardly comprehend the prophetic views of an organic 
national life and of national sin and salvation. We usually 
conceive of the community as a loose sand-heap of indi- 
viduals and this difference in the fundamental point of view 
distorts the utterances of the prophets as soon as we handle 
them. For instance, one of our most beautiful revival texts 
is the invitation : "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall 
be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they 
shall be as wool." The words are part of the first chapter of 
Isaiah, to which reference has been made. The prophet 
throughout the chapter deals with the national condition of 
the kingdom of Judah and its capital. He describes its dev- 
astation; he ridicules the attempts to appease the national 
God by redoubled sacrifices; he urges instead the abolition 
of social oppression and injustice as the only way of regain- 
ing God's favor for the nation. If they would vindicate the 
cause of the helpless and oppressed, then he would freely 
pardon ; then their scarlet and crimson guilt would be washed 
away. The familiar text is followed by the very material 
promise of economic prosperity, and the threat of continued 
war: "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good 



THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY II 

of the land; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured 
with the sword." Of course the text is nobly true when it 
is made to express God's willingness to pardon the repentant 
individual, but that was not the thought in the mind of the 
writer. He offered a new start to his nation on condition 
that it righted social wrongs. We offer free pardon to in- 
dividuals and rarely mention social wrongs. 

We have seen that the prophets demanded right moral 
conduct as the sole test and fruit of religion, and that the 
morality which they had in mind was not the private morality 
of detached pious souls but the social morality of the nation. 
This they preached, and they backed their preaching by active 
participation in public action and discussion. 

We advance another step in our study when we emphasize 
that the sympathy of the prophets, even of the most aristo- 
cratic among them, was entirely on the side of the poorer 
classes. Professor Kautzsch says : " Since Amos it was the The cham- 
alpha and omega of prophetic preaching to insist on right and jJJJJJj? 
justice, to warn against the oppression of the poor and help- 
less." 1 The edge of their invectives was turned against the 
land-hunger of the landed aristocracy who "joined house to 
house and laid field to field," till a country of sturdy peasants 
was turned into a series of great estates ; 2 against the capitalis- 
tic ruthlessness that "sold the righteous for silver and the 
needy for a pair of shoes," thrusting the poor free-man into 
slavery to collect a trifling debt; s against the venality of the 
judges who took bribes and had a double standard of law 

1 Kautzsch, " Geschichte des alttestamentlichen Schiifttunu.* 
'Isaiahs. 8; Micah a. a. 
Amos 2. 6. 



12 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

for the rich and the poor. 1 This dominant trait of their moral 
feeling reacted on their theology, so that it became one of the 
fundamental attributes of their God that he was the husband 
of the widow, the father of the orphan, and the protector of 
the stranger. The widows and the fatherless were those who 
had no concrete power to back their claims, no "influence," 
no "financial interest," no "pull" with the police judges and 
aldermen of that time. The "stranger" was the immigrant 
who had no part in the blood-kinship of the clan, and hence 
no share in the land and no voice in the common affairs of 
the village. His modern brother is the proletarian immigrant 
of our cities, who also has no share in the modern means of 
production and no political power to protect his interests. 
When the prophets conceived Jehovah as the special vindi- 
cator of these voiceless classes, it was another way of saying 
that it is the chief duty in religious morality to stand for the 
rights of the helpless. 

A man's sympathy is a more decisive fact in his activity 
than his judgment. One man to-day may disapprove of a 
given action of a railway or of a coal-combine, but his in- 
stinctive sympathy is always with "property" and "the vested 
interests " Another man may lament and condemn a foolish 
strike or headlong violence, but he will dwell on the extenu- 
ating circumstances and hold to the fundamental justice of 
"the cause of labor." This division of sympathy is now 
coming to be the real line of cleavage in our public affairs. 
There is no question on which side the sympathy of the 
prophets was enlisted. Their protest against injustice and 
oppression, to the neglect of all other social evils, is almost 

1 J. F. McCurdy, " History, Prophecy, and the Monuments," II, 206- 
213- 



THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY 13 

monotonous. To the more judicial and scientific temper of 
our day their invective would seem overdrawn and their 
sympathy would seem partisanship. In Jeremiah and in the 
prophetic psalms the poor as a class are made identical with 
the meek and godly, and "rich" and" wicked " are almost 
synonymous terms. 

How did the championship of the oppressed come to be so 
essential a part of prophetic morality ? It would be hard to 
find a parallel to it anywhere. What other nation has a 
library of classics in which the spokesmen of the common 
people have the dominant voice ? If any one cares to assert 
that divine inspiration alone will account for the fact, I 
should have no quarrel with the assertion. If the people 
ever come to their own in days to come, it may be that this 
trait of the Old Testament will come to be a stronger proof 
of its inspiration than the arguments that have hitherto done 
duty in theology. 

But there were good historical causes for the attitude of 
the prophets in contemporary social movements. 

When the nomad tribes of Israel settled in Canaan and 
gradually became an agricultural people, they set out on their 
development toward civilization with ancient customs and 
rooted ideas that long protected primitive democracy and 
equality. Some tribes and clans claimed an aristocratic 
superiority of descent over others. Within the tribe there 
were elders and men of power to whom deference was due as 
a matter of course, but there was no hereditary social boundary 
line, no graded aristocracy or caste, no distinction between 
blue blood and red. The idea of a mesalliance, which plays 
so great a part in the social life of European nations and in 
the plots of their romantic literature, is wholly wanting in the 



14 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

Old Testament. 1 When the Bible became the property of 
the common man in the age of the Reformation, the total 
absence of a feudal nobility in the divinely instituted social 
life of Israel struck the people as an astonishing fact. It 
contributed greatly to emancipate them from their feudal 
reverence and added force to the democratic movements of 
that revolutionary age. The impression of primitive democ- 
racy made by the Bible is expressed in the old saying on 
which John Ball preached to the English peasants in Wat 
Tyler's rebellion : 

"When Adam dalf and Eve span, 
Where was thannc a gentilman?" 

The great Alexandrian Jew Philo expressed the same im- 
pression about the Law: "If there is any one in the world 
who is a praiser of equality, that man is Moses." 2 It was 
the decay of the primitive democracy, and the growth of 
luxury, tyranny, extortion, of court life and a feudal nobility, 
which Samuel wisely feared when the people demanded a 
king. 8 

The ownership of the land is the fundamental economic fact 
in all communities. Unequal distribution of the land and an 
hereditary aristocracy have always been inseparable facts. 
Approximately equal distribution of the land is the necessary 
basis for political and social democracy. Like all primitive 
peoples, Israel set out with a large measure of communism in 
land. It was used in severalty, but owned by the clan. At 
the conquest it was distributed to the tribes and there were 

1 Buhl, " Die socialen Verhaeltnisse der Israeliten," 4-9. 
* Philo, " Who is an Heir of Divine Things? " 33. Bonn's edition ol 
Philo, Vol. II. 

8 i Samuel 8. 10-18. 



THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY 15 

ancient customs to prevent its alienation from the tribe. The 
principle was recognized that every family should have a 
freehold in land. 

In this absence of social caste and this fair distribution of 
the means of production, the early times of Israel were much 
like the early times in our own country. America too set 
out with an absence of hereditary aristocracy and with a fair 
distribution of the land among the farming population. Both 
the Jewish and the American people were thereby equipped 
with a kind of ingrained, constitutional taste for democracy 
which dies hard. In time Israel drifted away from this 
primitive fairness and simplicity, just as we are drifting away 
from it. A new civilization aiose, based on commerce and 
mobile wealth. Capital controlled the food supply. Great 
landed estates displaced the peasantry. The poor man, with- 
out the natural footing on the land, was often pushed over 
the precipice of want by any special emergency of war, 
famine, or sickness, and was sold into slavery for debt. The 
cities grew in size and importance. Rich men built stone 
houses and summer villas, and feasted daily on meat and 
wine, which the poor man tasted perchance thrice a year at 
the great feasts. Wealthy women robed their persons with 
the wealth wrung from the poor. As everywhere, this con- 
dition, when once created, tended to perpetuate itself and to 
guard against any reversal. The rich controlled tLe adminis- 
tration of the law. Priests and magistrates shared in the 
thirst for the most attractive of all narcotics wealth. The 
rich in their well-fed optimism were lifted out of the natural 
human sympathy with the poor. 

This rapid increase in wealth, with the usual unequal dis- 
tribution of it, set in during the forty years preceding Amos. 



16 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

The old democratic instinct of the people angrily resented 
this upstart tyranny. It is a popular fallacy that long-con- 
tinued oppression and misery cause revolutionary impatience. 
On the contrary, it is while the bit is new in the mustang's 
mouth that it rears and plunges. When a well-fed and in- 
dependent people, with fresh memories of better days, are 
forced under the yoke, they are sure to protest. To the 
fellahin of Egypt poverty and exploitation seem as inevitable 
as the fall of night and the coming of death. In the United 
States the reaction against injustice is setting in swiftly and 
unanimously, though our working people are still in a con- 
dition that would seem paradise to the poor of other nations. 
So it was in Israel, and in that deeply religious age the 
protest was made in the name of God and by his spokesmen, 
the prophets. Amos, the first of the great social prophets, 
was a herdsman of Tekoa. He uttered the message of God, 
but he also expressed the feelings of the agrarian class to 
which he belonged. Abraham Lincoln in the contest against 
the slave-holding power, Henry George and Father McGlynn 
in their protest against the alienation of the land, revived the 
earlier democracy of the Declaration of Independence and 
taught once more that all men are created free and equal, 
and are endowed with the inalienable right to life, liberty, and 
the pursuit of happiness. Similarly the championship of the 
poor by the prophets was not due to the inflow of novel social 
ideals, but to the survival of nobler conceptions to which 
they clung in the face of the distorted social conditions cre- 
ated by the new commercialism. They were the voice 
of an untainted popular conscience, made bold by religious 
faith. 
We have an excellent illustration of this in the story of 



THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY 17 

Ahab and Naboth's vineyard. Ahab knew the tenacity with 
which the Israelite clung to his freehold, and the sanctity 
which attached to the ancestral inheritance, and hence, when 
Naboth refused to sell, the king could only fume helplessly 
at the failure of his pretty plans for a private park. His 
wife was from Tyre, where royal power was older and ac- 
customed to move rough-shod over the fancied rights of the 
common herd. She sneered at his feeble grip and gave him a 
lesson in handling the judiciary. But the judicial murder of 
Naboth brought Elijah out to face the king, a grim incarna- 
tion of justice and of the divine rights of the people. Ahab 
had collided with the primitive land-system of Israel and the 
prophetic sense of justice, and it cost his dynasty the throne 
and Jezebel her life. 1 

Another cause for the keen interest of the prophets in social 
justice deserves mention. The belief in a future life and 
future reward and punishment was almost absent in He- 
brew religion. To live to an honored old age, to see his 
children and children's children, to enjoy the fruit of his labor 
in peace under his own vine and fig-tree that was all the 
heaven to which the pious Israelite looked forward. If 
social oppression robbed him of that, it robbed him of all. 
It even cheated him of his faith in the justice of God. On the 
supposition of a future life we can adjourn the manifest 
inequities of this life to the hereafter and trust that good and 
evil will yet be balanced justly when time and eternity are 
put together. In early Hebrew theology there were no such 
adjourned assizes for the individual. God must prove his 
justice here or never. If the wicked waxed fat and the pious 
were robbed with impunity, the moral order of the universe 
1 i Kings 21. 



1 8 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

was under indictment. In Christianity, faith in the future 
life has to some extent subdued the demand for social justice, 
as we shall see later. The absence of this belief in He- 
brew religion served to make the desire for earthly pros- 
perity more direct and impatient, and belief in the divine 
justice lent religious sanction to the demand for economic 
justice. 

The full strength of the humane social conceptions prevail 
ing in Israel can be gauged only if we draw the Law into our 
discussion. We do not turn away from the prophets when we 
turn to the Law. According to the old interpretation, the 
entire Law contained in the Pentateuch was given by Jehovah 
to Moses and thus from the birth of the nation formed the 
foundation on which its whole life rested. In that case the 
prophets drew their ideals from the Law and their preaching 
was but a summons to the people to obey it. According to 
the modern cntical interpretation only a small part of the 
Law was of very ancient origin. The Book of Deuteronomy 
was the outgrowth of prophetic ideas and agitation in the 
seventh century before Christ. The other portions of the 
Law did not originate till the Exile or after it, when the life of 
Judah had been long and deeply saturated with the teach- 
ing of the prophets. Thus on the one hypothesis the Law 
created the prophets; on the other hypothesis the prophets 
created the Law. In either case the relation is very close and 
causal. For any thorough discussion of the social ideals 
embodied in the Law it would be necessary to decide between 
these two hypotheses. For our purpose it is sufficient to 
point out that the Law and the prophets are a deposit of the 
same strong current of historical life, related to each other as 
cause and effect. 



THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY IQ 

The Law, of course, recognized such fundamental customs 
and institutions of primitive Oriental civilization as slavery^ 
polygamy, and blood-revenge. In so far as it gives formal 
sanction to these institutions, it drops below the conceptions 
of human rights to which we have now attained. But its 
general drift and purpose, its regard for the rights of the poor, 
and its tenderness even for their finer feelings of self-respect 
are so noble and humane that one cannot study the social 
features of the Hebrew Law without a thrill of sympathy and 
admiration. By swift moral intuition, by the instinct of 
human fellow-feeling under the impulse of religious faith, 
regulations were conceived there which anticipated and out- 
ran the rudimentary protective legislation of our day. We 
shall glance at a few points only. 

The land belonged to Jehovah, the national god. That 
is only another way of saying that it belonged to the com- 
munity. It was not individual property, but clan and family 
property. There were various provisions to protect the right 
of the family to its ancestral holding and to prevent any 
permanent alienation. If land was sold under stress of need, 
it could be purchased back under favorable terms. In an 
agricultural community and before the introduction of 
machinery in farming the land is by far the most important 
means of production. It is one of the highest problems of 
statesmanship how to plant and root the people evenly and 
wisely in the land. If the land is owned by the men who till 
!t, there is social health and strength. If it is owned by 
wealthy proprietors and tilled by landless agricultural labor- 
ers, a curse is on the people. All the provisions of the 
Hebrew Law were meant to counteract the separation of the 
people from the land. It sought to prevent the growth of 



2O CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

great estates and a landed aristocracy on the one side, and the 
growth of a landless proletariat on the other side. 1 

Every seven years the fields were to lie fallow (probably 
in rotation) and their untillcd harvests were to belong to all 
alike, like the berries that grow along our country roadside or 
in our forests. 2 Of course the poor were benefited most by 
such liberty to picnic. When the grain, the grapes, and the 
olives were harvested, the poor had the right to glean, and 
the owner was forbidden to be too careful in harvesting 
the corners or to go over the vines and trees a second time 3 
A hungry man passing through the fields was always free to 
eat of grain or fruit 4 These provisions doubtless were based 
on ancient customs, which in turn were remnants of primi- 
tive communism in land, a lingering recognition that the 
entire community has rights in the land which limit those of 
the individual owner. This right of the hungry man to 
help himself was not like the coin flung to a beggar in pity. 
It was the claim to joint-ownership. It was his right. There 
is a fundamental moral distinction between the two things. 

The laborer was to be paid at sundown. 5 That recognizes 
the importance of prompt payment of wages, for which 
modern labor legislation has had to contend. The principle 
for which the Eight-hour Movement and the Early-closing 
Movement now agitate was embodied in the Sabbath law. 
The Decalogue emphatically throws the protection of that 
law over those whose labor-force was most in danger of being 

1 Leviticus 25 

'Leviticus 25 1-7, Exodus 23 n, Buhl, 22. 

8 Deuteronomy 24 19-22, Leviticus 19 9-10, 23. 22. 

4 Deuteronomy 23 24-25 

5 Deuteronomy 24 14-15, Leviticus 19. 13. 



THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY 21 

exploited, the slaves, the immigrant stranger, and the beasts 
of burden. It was quite within the bounds of human nature 
for the frugal fanner to send them to work, while he sent 
himself to rest ; hence they are especially enumerated. The 
earliest form of the Sabbath law is the most purely humane 
in its wording: "that thine ox and thine ass, and the son of 
thy handmaid, and the sojourner may be refreshed." l In a 
non-capitalistic community loans would usually be asked 
only to relieve need and therefore no advantage was to be 
taken of a neighbor's necessities by making his distress 
profitable. Interest was forbidden, so that debt could not 
breed more hopeless debt. This also counteracted the 
tendency to inequality in mobile capital. If an Israelite 
through debt or misfortune became slave to another, he was 
not a pariah, but was still to be treated as a member of the 
family, with a right to share in the family feasts. His servi- 
tude was not to become perpetual and when its term was 
over, he was to be loaded with gifts that he might have a 
start in shifting for himself. A fugitive slave was to be 
protected. Israel had no "Fugitive Slave Law." There is 
no record of any slave riots or of any burning slave question 
in its history. 2 

Thus the Law, like the preaching of the prophets, mani- 
fests a striking sympathy for the poorer classes and an un- 
flagging respect for their equal humanity. The manhood of 
the poor was more sacred to it than the property of the rich. 
In this fundamental attitude the Hebrew Law differs widely 
from the Roman Law, which was formulated in a despotic 

Exodus 23 12 Kautzsch translates it beautifully: "einmal aufatme" 
2 Deuteronomy r sand 23 15-16. McCurdy, " History, Prophecy, and 
the Monuments," II, 175-6. 



22 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

State and amidst a flagrant monopoly of wealth, and ia 
responsible for much of the excessive reverence for private 
property rights in our Western civilization. 

Some of the laws were purely ideal conceptions. The Year 
of Jubilee provided for a universal shake-up and a new start 
all around every fifty years; it was to restore the slave to 
liberty and the peasant to his land, and lift to the saddle again 
those families that had been thrown by a stumble in some 
gopher-hole of misfortune. 1 We know that this beautiful 
scheme remained a Utopia which even post-exilic Leal for the 
Law managed to disregard. Other laws were set aside by 
the ruthlessness of the strong. Only those were likely to be 
really effective which were firmly based on ancient custom. 
But in any case these were the ideals of social life that lived 
in the nobler hearts of Israel, and these ideals either created 
the prophetic convictions, or they were the product of the 
prophetic preaching. 

We rightly hold that social ideals of such moral value could 
grow only out of a religious life of high value. But the 
reverse is also historically true : that the high religious life of 
Israel could develop only within a nation that cherished and 
maintained such social ideals. 

We have seen that the religion of the prophets was not the 
quiet devoutness of private religion. They lived in the open 
air of national life. Every heart-beat of their nation was 
registered in the pulse-throb of the prophets. They made the 
history of their nation, but in turn the history of their nation 
made them. They looked open-eyed at the events about 
them and then turned to the inner voice of God to interpret 

1 Leviticus 25. 8-17, 47-S5 



THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY 2$ 

what they saw. They went to school with a living God who 
was then at work in his world, and not with a God who had 
acted long ago and put it down in a book. They learned 
religion by the laboratory method of studying contemporary 
life. Consequently their conception of God and of God's 
purposes was enlarged and clarified as their political horizon 
grew wider and clearer. 

The first rise of widespread prophetism of which we have 
any record in Israel was historically connected with the raids 
and invasions of the Philistines (about 1020 B.C.). Against 
their united and disciplined forces the scattered tribes were 
helpless. The national calamity created a religious revival. 
We catch glimpses of bands of prophets moving about in 
rhythmical processions, with music and song, spreading a 
contagious religious ecstasy. In Samuel the popular emotion 
found a practical, statesmanlike expression. The result was 
the election of the first king, the most important step toward 
organized national unity. As in the case of the American 
colonies and of the German States, the pressure of a great war 
was the only force sufficient to crystallize the loose ingredients 
of Israel into a nation. But the same national crisis which 
created the kingship also inaugurated the higher career of 
the prophetic order. There had been prophets in Israel 
before ; they were a religious phenomenon common to all the 
Semitic peoples. But they had been mainly soothsayers, 
using their clairvoyant powers for any one who needed them 
and paid them for their service. Their ecstatic raptures and 
their predictions had not been based on any fundamental 
moral convictions. The patriotic enthusiasm of the uprising 
against Philistine domination began to lift the prophets clear 
Df the function and the magical implements of soothsaying, 



24 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

and cut them loose from ceremonial ritual in general. Theat 
functions now fell to the priests. This was "probably the 
very greatest relief which prophecy experienced in the course 
of its evolution." * Henceforth they were free to take that 
independent or hostile attitude to ritual religion to which we 
have referred, and their predictions henceforth were national 
in scope and based on fundamental moral laws and convic- 
tions. Thus patriotism was the emancipating power which 
set the feet of the prophetic order on that new and higher path 
which was destined to lift them far above the soothsayers of 
other nations with whom they started on a common level. 
That religious passion which had turned against a foreign 
invader was equally ready to turn against the domestic 
oppressors of the people. 

The new series of prophets which began with Amos about 
755 B.C. was summoned to action by a vaster danger than 
that of the Philistine invaders. The empire of Assyria was 
rising on the Eastern horizon like a cyclone-cloud. It moved 
down on the cluster of little kingdoms in Syria and Palestine 
with irresistible force. Assyria was the first of those great 
powers which were destined to grind up the tribal nationalities 
of the ancient Orient and out of the detritus to form new con- 
glomerate formations on a grander scale. What Assyria 
began, Chaldea and the Greeks continued and the Romans 
completed. We can see now that the process was inevitable 
and necessary for the development of a wider and higher 
civilization, but for those who got between the millstones, it 
was terror and agony. Napoleon playing at nine-pins with 
the kingdoms of Europe, or the white race dividing the earth 
during the nineteenth century, are mild modern parallels. 

1 G. A. Smith, "The Book of the Twelve Prophets," I, 23. 



THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY 2$ 

Now, to all the nations their gods were fundamentally the 
national gods. Every tribe had its god and every god had his 
tribe. Each people relied on the national god to preserve the 
nation. If the nation suffered some temporary defeat and dis- 
aster, the people were either angry with their god because he 
was inefficient and idle, or they cringed before him because he 
was angry. But when a nation was annihilated, it meant the 
collapse of the national faith and religion. Such a nation 
would hear the scoff of its neighbors : " Where is now thy god ?" 

This catastrophe of despair and disillusionment which 
brought other national religions to the ground amid the wreck 
of the nations that held them, threatened Israel too. The 
prophets saved the faith of the people. They even taught 
the people to rise on the ruins of their national past to a 
higher faith. The religion of the prophets was not based on 
local shrines or sacrifices, but on moral law. They asserted 
that Jehovah is fundamentally a god of righteousness, and a 
god of Israel only in so far as Israel was a nation of righteous- 
ness. The popular feeling was that if the people stood by 
Jehovah, he was in duty bound to stand by them against all 
comers. They expected their god to act on the maxim: 
"My country, right or wrong." The prophets denied it. 
They repudiated the idea of favoritism in the divine govern- 
ment. God moves on the plane of universal and impartial 
ethical law. Assyria belongs to him as well as Israel. He 
would live and be just even if Israel was broken. Israel was 
not a pet child that would escape the rod. Its prerogative 
was the revelation of God's will and not any immunity from 
the penalties of the moral law. The relation of the nation to 
Jehovah was not a natural right and privilege, but rested on 
<noral conditions. 



26 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

Thus the same historical catastrophe which wrecked the 
faith of others lifted the prophets to a higher faith. Their 
religion became international in its horizon and more pro- 
foundly ethical. Had their piety previously been narrow in 
its outlook and ritual in its character, it would now have 
suffered shipwreck. The Assyrian riddle would have been 
insoluble. Because they were men of large interest, new 
occasions under the inspiration of God were able to teach 
them new duties and new truths. They added new terms 
to the synthesis of truth. Their new faith at first seemed 
to the people a blasphemous denial of religion. When the 
events which they had foretold were actually fulfilled, the 
prophetic books became the support and stay on which 
popular religion slowly climbed to new life. 

We are often told that ministers who concern themselves 
in political and social questions are likely to lose their spiritual 
power and faith. Professor George Adam Smith, in dis- 
cussing the development of prophetic religion, says on the 
contrary: "Confine religion to the personal, it grows rancid, 
morbid. Wed it to patriotism, it lives in the open air, and 
its blood is pure." l I do not think so sweeping a generali- 
zation about purely private religion is just. But those who 
hold that the flower of religion can be raised only in flower- 
pots will have to make their reckoning with the prophets of 
Israel. The very book on which they feed their private 
devotion and that entire religion out of which Christianity 
grew, took shape through a divine inspiration which found 
its fittest and highest organs in a series of political and social 
preachers. It is safe to say that the "ethical monotheism" 
which has been Israel's invaluable contribution to the reli- 
1 G. A. Smith, " The Book of the Twelve Prophets," I, 25. 



THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY 27 

gious life of humanity, would never have developed and sur- 
vived if the prophets had from the outset limited their religion 
in the way in which we are nowadays advised to limit it. 

That virility and humaneness of the prophets and that Thelatw 
capacity for growth which stir our enthusiasm were largely 
due to the breadth and mclusiveness of their religious 
sympathy and faith. All the world was God's field; all the 
affairs of the nation were the affairs of religion. Every great 
event in history taught them a lesson in theology. 

This type of religion was destroyed when the national life 
itself was destroyed by the foreign conquerors. The nation 
had been the subject of prophecy, and now the nation as such 
was blotted out. How could the prophets any longer appeal 
for national righteousness, when it was not at the option of the 
people to be righteous? Political agitation among a people 
under jealous foreign despotism would mean revolutionary 
agitation and would never be tolerated. Thus all the reli- 
gious passion and reflection which had formerly flowed into 
social and political channels was dammed up and turned 
back. Prayer and private devoutness in pious individuals 
and in groups of pious men was the only field left to the 
religious impulse. The religious history and the ceremonial 
worship of Israel were the only bond of national unity that 
survived. 

Jeremiah began the turn toward individual piety. The 
nation was breaking up about him. His prophetic activity 
had failed; the people refused to believe that his words were 
the word of Jehovah. But he heard the insistent inner voice 
of God, and the consciousness of this personal communion 
with Jehovah was his stay and comfort. Through his very 



28 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

failure and sufferings a tender personal relation developed 
between the soul of the prophet and his God. Other choice 
spirits were in the same situation. The influence of Jere- 
miah's writings reproduced in others that personal piety 
which was the outcome of his peculiar experience. For 
religious experience has a remarkable capacity for perpetuat- 
ing and reproducing its type; witness the Confessions of 
Saint Augustine and the mysticism of Saint Bernard. Je- 
hovah had been the God of the nation, and the God of the 
individual in so far as he was part of the nation. Now the 
nation was gone, and the righteous and lowly in their suffer- 
ing and isolation stretched the lonely hand of faith to 
him and found him near with a personal touch of love and 
comfort. Thus the death-pangs of the national life were the 
birth-pangs of the personal religious life. 

This was a wonderful triumph of religion, an evidence of 
the indestructibility of the religious impulse. It was fraught 
with far-reaching importance for the future of religion and of 
humanity in general. The subtlest springs of human person- 
ality were liberated when the individual realized that he 
personally was dear to God and could work out his salva- 
tion not as a member of his nation, but as a man by virtue 
of his humanity. 

The value of this religious achievement has so impressed 
the students of Hebrew religious history that they have fre- 
quently assumed that this change in religion was pure gain. 
The real edifice of religion in the individual soul was now 
ready to stand for itself, they say, and the scaffolding of 
political and social religion could be torn down and its plank- 
ing abandoned. It is assumed that Jeremiah and those who 
followed him recognized that the external means of realizing 



THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY 29 

the ideal theocracy had failed, and they now set themselves 
deliberately to build a new religious community of regenerate 
souls. They turned their back on the Jewish nation and 
created the Jewish church. 

That seems to me a misleading construction of the historical 
situation. It is true that the progress of religion toward spir- 
ituality was sure to make religion more personal. But every 
new religious synthesis should contain all that was good and 
true in the old. If the religious value of the individual was 
being discovered, why should the religious value of the com- 
munity be forgotten? As a matter of fact, this concentra- 
tion of religious life in the individual was not a deliberate step 
of progress, freely taken, but was forced upon these men by 
dire necessity. Religion found the broad plains of national 
life destroyed and in possession of the enemy, and it re- 
treated into the mountain fastnesses of individual soul-life. 
It is a triumph of religious faith if a man who is crippled for 
life, and confined to a hopeless bed of pain and uselessness, 
still keeps his faith in God intact, or even develops so strong 
a trust in him who has slain him that others come to his bed- 
side to draw faith from his mere look and existence. But 
that is not normal religion. Religion is the hallowing of all 
life, and its health-giving powers are always impaired if it 
is denied free access to some of the organs through which it 
fulfils its functions. Moreover, even with the prophets of 
the Exile, the restoration of the nation was the controlling 
desire. They insisted on personal holiness, not because 
that was the end of all religion, but because it was the 
condition and guarantee of national restoration. Personal 
religion was chiefly a means to an end ; the end was social. 

We can appreciate to the full the significance and value of 



3O CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CBISIS 

the personal religion developed under the abnormal con 
ditions of foreign domination and national prostration, and 
yet recognize frankly that this gain had involved a tre* 
mendous loss and that a religion developed under abnormal 
conditions is likely itself to be abnormal. This view is con- 
firmed by the subsequent development of religious thought 
and life. Ezekiel, who lived during the Exile, shows the 
effect of the separation between the political and religious 
interests. He too still cherishes the national hope. At the 
end of his book he describes his vision of Jerusalem as he 
hoped it would be when restored and rebuilt. The old so- 
cial convictions still persist; for instance, he takes care to 
provide for the just distribution of the land. And yet the 
political commonwealth and the king have become shadowy ; 
the memory of them was growing dim and therefore the 
hope of them was vague and colorless. On the other hand 
the community of worshippers and the priests as their 
leaders were now vividly in the foreground. As a conse- 
quence the moral and religious emphasis had changed. His 
ideal city was no longer a city of justice so much as a city of 
the true worship. The older prophets had condemned the 
sins of man against man, especially injustice and oppression. 
Ezekiel dwelt on the sins of man against God, especially 
idolatry. Not justice but holiness had become the funda- 
mental requirement, and holiness meant chiefly ceremonial 
correctness. The righteous nation was turned into a holy 
church. Ezekiel was a prophet by calling, but he was a priest 
by birth and training, and in comparing his literary style, his 
outlook on life, and his spiritual power with that of the older 
prophets, it is impossible to avoid a sense of religious deca- 
dence. The classical age was past. Religion had growr 



THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY 31 

narrower and feebler when it was forced back from the great 
national and human interests into an ecclesiastical attitude 
of mind. 

This impression deepens as we follow the little colony of 
Jewish Puritans who returned to their home and rebuilt the 
temple and the city amid poverty and fear. We shall have 
occasion hereafter to point out how intimately the religious 
life is connected with the secular life in which it develops. 
It is unjust to expect that the religious life which took form 
in the contracted circle that gathered about the rebuilt shrine 
of Jehovah would have the same bold originality and genius 
that swept through a hopeful and autonomous nation. But 
it is also unwise to hold that type of religion up to us as a 
higher development of religion. 

It was an earnest, solid community of sifted and picked 
religious men, with a great preponderance of priests. There 
was marvellous courage and tenacity, heroic loyalty to con- 
viction, a tenderness of personal piety and a devotion to 
religion surpassing that of better times. But on its serious 
brow this religion wore a pallid complexion. It became legal, 
fixed, monotonous, a thing by itself, shut off from the spon- 
taneity and naturalness of the general life. The prophetic 
voice was hushed and the prophetic fire died out. The scribe 
now sat where the prophet had stood, and the sacred book 
took the place of the living Voice. There was greater in- 
sistence on holiness than ever, but the conception of holiness 
had insensibly been lowered. The prophets had lifted the 
expression of religion to the ethical plane. The strong 
ethical ingredient was never again lost from Jewish religion, 
but the ceremonial ingredient began to mix with it in larger 
proportions and to become almost the chief constituent of 



32 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

holiness. Religion became once more priestly and ritual, 
with a timid and legal reverence for externals. It was coming 
to be dominated by those influences which Jesus and Paul 
opposed. This was a development similar to that of Chris- 
tianity when the primitive spirituality of Paul passed into the 
ecclesiasticism and ceremonialism of the Catholic Church. 
This is not the classical period of Israel to which we turn 
for inspiration. Yet this is the period when personal religion 
was cultivated and when the teachers of religion did not 
preach politics, but devoted themselves to questions of wor- 
ship and to church affairs. 

The pro- In our personal Christian life every call to duty is im- 

of h naiionIT mensc ty strengthened by the large hope of ultimately attain- 

wrfection. ing a Christlike character and the eternal life. That creates 

the atmosphere for the details of the religious life. In the 

social movement of our time the single reformatory demands 

are drawing a new and remarkable power from the larger 

conception of a reconstitution of social life on a cooperative 

basis. It takes a great and comprehensive hope to kindle 

the full power of enthusiasm in human lives. 

The prophets too cherished a large ideal of the ultimate 
perfection of their people. Their specific demands for justice 
were reenforced by the conviction that these were at the same 
time an approximation to that wider national regeneration 
and a condition of its final completion. 

In the earliest age of prophetism there was no distant 
outlook. Religious patriots were content if the nation was 
victorious over its enemies and could live in peace and pros- 
perity under just kings. The development of a larger national 
hope was due to a double cause. On the one hand the 



THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY 33 

ethical development of the nation and of its prophetic spokes- 
men furnished a higher ideal standard by which to measure 
the present. As long as a man has a low conception of 
what a perfect human character would imply, his idea of 
salvation will consist in slight reforms of conduct. The 
higher the conception of personal or social possibilities, the 
larger is the task set for us. On the other hand the doom 
of the nation, first impending and then actual, developed and 
enlarged the hope of the prophets. The less they lived by 
sight, the more they had to live by faith in the future. The 
more acute the present misery, the intenser the longing for 
the better day of God. We can find a ready illustration of 
this process in modern life. Those classes which are in 
practical control of wealth and power have practically no 
reformatory programme; they are anxious to maintain the 
present situation intact. The middle classes, which shait 
only partially in the advantages of the present social adjust- 
ments, have a list of grievances under which they chafe, but 
their social ideals do not differ very radically from the actual 
condition. They want reforms on the basis of the present 
social order, and they can reasonably hope to secure them 
by peaceful and gradual methods. But when we descend to 
the disinherited classes, or to those nations which are forcibly 
held back from political liberty and social betterment, the 
chasm between their actual condition and their desires grows 
so wide that only a revolutionary lift can carry them across. 
Thus under the double influence of a rising ethical life and a 
declining national life, the hope of the prophets became 
wider and more inclusive, and also more remote, separated 
from the present by a sharper line. 
With the older prophets their social ideal was not a Utopian 



34 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

dream detached from present conditions, not a fair mirage 
floating in the air. It was within realizable distance. It9 
feet were planted on the actual social and political situation. 
The poetic imagery used by these Oriental patriots is apt to 
put a rainbow around their ideas, and our prosaic minds fail 
to see that they dealt with stern realities in a sober way. 
They had a clear-eyed outlook on contemporary events.* 
They were religious men and as such expected no great crisis 
to come except through's God's action. In any national 
regeneration God would have to be the real cause and force. 
They pictured his interference under the sublime image of a 
royal advent, God coming to his people on the wings of 
thunder and revealing his majesty to all the nations. This 
"day of Jehovah" would be the decisive turning-point, the 
inauguration of a new epoch of history. It meant vengeance 
on the foreign oppressor, punishment for the wicked, the 
sifting of Israel, the rescue of the weak. Beyond that day 
lay the golden age, in which all men would know God and 
his will, and the suffering of the just would be over forever. 
This day of Jehovah was to the prophets what the social 
revolution is to modern radical reformers, but expressed in 
terms of fervent religious faith; therefore its real goal was 
moral justice rather than economic prosperity, and it was to 
come by divine help and not by mere social evolution. 

When the life of the nation withered away under the mailed 
fist of an alien power and the attainment of future improve- 
ments was torn from its control, the character of the national 
hope underwent a gradual change. It was never surrendered. 
However individualistic religion became, it never abandoned 
the collective hope as the real consummation of religion. 
The restoration of the temple after the Exile was hailed as a 



THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY 35 

pledge of the national restoration that was to follow. The 
tense personal obedience to the minutiae of the Law in post- 
exilic Judaism was only the condition for the full blessing of 
God on the nation. Jehovah was always the God of an or 
ganized society and not of a disconnected mass of individuals. 
The Book of Daniel is an interpretation of international re- 
lations and events, a programme for history to follow. But 
when the weight of foreign empire was so overwhelming and 
crushing that even the boldest hope could see no adequate 
resources in the people, the catastrophe that would break 
this power was conceived as a supernatural cataclysm out of 
all relation to human activity. By contact with foreign 
religious life during the Exile the belief in a great organized 
kingdom of evil had become a vital part of Jewish thought, 
and the Jews saw behind the oppressive human forces the 
shadowy and sinister forms of demon powers that could be 
overcome only by archangels and heavenly armies. When 
religion was driven from national interests into the refuge of 
private life, it lost its grasp of larger affairs, and the old clear 
outlook into contemporary history gave way to an artificial 
scheme. Instead of reading present facts to discern God's 
purposes, men began to pore over the sacred books, and to 
piece the unfulfilled prophecies of the dead prophets into a 
mosaic picture of the future. The sunlight of the prophetic 
hope gave way to the limelight of the apocalyptic visions of 
later Judaism. 

It is profoundly pathetic to see how a people paralyzed, 
broken on the rack, and almost destroyed, still clung to its 
national existence and believed in its political future. Even 
the crudest dreams of apocalypticism have a tragic dignity 
and a lingering touch of vital force. In those dreams the 



36 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

Jewish people kept alive both their memories and their hopes\ 
much as an impoverished aristocratic family will preserve the 
tarnished swords and the faded uniforms worn by illustrious 
ancestors and nurse the hope in its sons that they may some 
day regain the old position. But it is a mistake to look for 
political wisdom in a people that had no politics. Bands of 
foreign political refugees gathered in England have often 
dreamed intensely of the liberation of their fatherland, but 
they have rarely planned wisely, and usually fail to take 
account of changes since they left their home. Yet the un- 
historical and artificial schemes of apocalypticism have been 
and are now more influential in shaping the imagination of 
Christian men about the future course of history than the 
inspired thoughts of the great prophets. Men still rival the 
rabbis in learned calculations that somehow never turn out 
correct, and follow wandering lights which have thus far dis- 
appointed and led astray all that have ever followed them. 

The " pes- Social preachers nowadays are very commonly charged with 

Srthe 1 " keing " to P ess st i c -" The same charge was made against 

prophets the Hebrew prophets. Their people, like ours, was filled 

full of cheerful and egotistic optimism, with this distinction 

in favor of the Hebrews, that their optimism was based on 

religious faith, while ours is based mainly on material wealth. 

Israel had the strongest of all the gods for its champion, and 

he would surely see his people through all trouble. Was not 

Israel his dwelling-place and did not his people supply him 

with the sacrifices which he loved ? 

It is significant that Amos first appeared at a festival at 
Bethel and interrupted its revels with a jarring note, crying 
that the fall of the Northern kingdom and the exile of its 



THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY 37 

people were impending. These prophets continued to be 
disturbers of religious pleasure. To the people this seemed 
not only unpatriotic and disagreeable pessimism, but treason 
and blasphemy combined, for the nation and Jehovah were 
one, and the downfall of the one implied the downfall of the 
other. Amos came close to denying that Israel had any 
special religious prerogative at all. 

As Amos and Hosea proclaimed the doom of the Northern 
kingdom in the eighth century, Jeremiah proclaimed the fall 
of the Southern kingdom a century and a half later. After 
the great reformation under Josiah (623 B.C.), the people 
were full of confidence. They had the temple ; they had the 
Law. Jeremiah called their faith a delusion. Their temple 
would suffer the same fate as the ancient sanctuary of Shiloh. 
He denied that Judah was any better than the sister-kingdom 
had been. He ridiculed the optimistic prophets who prophe- 
sied the "smooth things" which the people loved to hear. 
He set it up as a general principle that the true prophets had 
always been prophets of disaster. 

Ezekiel continued the same strain. He had been among 
the first prominent exiles deported in 597 B.C. These men were 
full of hope for their own speedy return. Those who were 
left in Jerusalem were also full of confidence because they were 
now the sifted remnant. As long as Jerusalem was standing, 
Ezekiel made it his task to batter down and discourage this 
complacent confidence and to foretell the complete destruc- 
tion of the national life. 

How would we feel if a preacher should use a public gather- 
ing on Decoration Day or Thanksgiving Day to predict that 
our country for its mammonism and oppression was cast off 
by God and was to be parcelled out to the Mexicans, the Chinese 



38 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

and the negroes? In the sense of our security and strength 
we should probably simply laugh at him. But suppose that 
our country was bleeding through disastrous foreign wars and 
invasions, shaken by internal anarchy, terrified and angry at 
blows too powerful for us to avert, and in that condition a 
preacher should "weaken public confidence" still further by 
such a message ? The vivid Oriental imagery of the prophets 
must not give us the impression that the injustice and cor- 
ruption of that day were unique. It is impossible to make 
accurate comparisons of human misery, but it may well be 
that the conditions against which the moral sensibility of the 
prophets revolted could be equalled in any modern industrial 
centre. And the same sins ought to seem blacker nineteen 
centuries after Christ than eight centuries before Christ. 

Our prophetic books contain constant reference to the 
"false prophets." These were not the preachers of an idola- 
trous religion, but men who claimed to deliver the word of 
Jehovah. Neither were they always conscious liars. They 
were the mouthpiece of the average popular opinion, and 
they drew their inspiration from the self-satisfied patriotism 
which seemed so very identical with trust in Jehovah and his 
sanctuary. They were apparently the great majority of the 
prophetic order; the prophets of our Bible were the excep- 
tional men. 1 The "false prophets" corresponded to those 
modern preachers who act as eulogists of existing conditions, 
not because they desire to deceive the people, but because 
they are really so charmed with things as they are and have 
never had a vision from God to shake their illusion. The 
logic of events proved to be on the side of those great Hebrews 
who asserted that black is really black, even if you call it 

1 Kuenen, "Prophets and Prophecy in Israel," 60. 



THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY 39 

white, and that a wall built with untempered mortar and 
built out of plumb is likely to topple. Because history backed 
their predictions, they are now in the Bible and revered as 
inspired. 

It is well to note, however, that the prophets took no vin- 
dictive pleasure in prophesying evil, as some modern prophets 
enjoy beating the broom of God's vengeance about the ears 
of the people. While Jeremiah was foretelling the destruc- 
tion of Jerusalem, his heart was breaking. It is significant 
that as soon as the disaster had come, the tone of prophecy 
changed. At long as the people were falsely optimistic, the 
prophets persisted in destroying their illusions. When the 
people were despairing, the prophets opposed their false 
hopelessness. On the ruins of the temple Jeremiah foretold 
its restoration, the return of the people, and a new era for his 
desolated country. As soon as the news of the destruction 
of the temple reached Ezekiel in exile, his threats changed 
to comfort and promises. This was not instability ; it was 
loyalty to facts and hostility to illusions. Because they 
believed in the immutability of the moral law, they had to 
tremble at any departure from it, but they could also feel its 
unshaken strength under their feet when all things went to 
pieces about them. These pessimists were really profoundly 
and magnificently optimistic. They never doubted the ulti- 
mate victory of Jehovah, of his righteousness, and of his 
people. The time may come in our own country, when the 
smiling optimists will be the most frightened and helpless of 
all, and when the present "pessimists" will be the only ones 
who have any hopes to cheer and any clear convictions to 
guide. 

The great prophets whom we revere were not those whom 



40 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

their own age regarded most. They were the men of thfl 
opposition and of the radical minority. They probably had 
more influence over posterity than over their own generation. 
Their attacks on existing conditions brought dangerous attacks 
upon them in return. A later day can always study with 
complacency the attacks made on the vested interests in a 
previous epoch, and the championship of eternal principles 
always seems divine to a generation that is not hurt by them. 
Jesus summed up the impression left on him by Old Testa- 
ment history by saying that prophets have no honor in their 
own country and in their own generation. It is always pos- 
terity which builds their sepulchres and garnishes their 
tombs. 

The Hebrew prophets shared the fate of all leaders who 
are far ahead of their times. They did not themselves 
achieve the triumph of their ideas. It was achieved for them 
by men who did not share their spirit, and who insensibly 
debased their ideals in realizing them. The ethical mono- 
theism of the prophets did not become common property in 
Judah till the priests and scribes enforced it. That is part 
of the Divine Comedy of history. The Tories carry out the 
Liberal programmes. The ideas preached by Socialists and 
Single Taxers are adopted by Populists, radical Democrats, 
and conservative Republicans successively, and in coming 
years the great parties will take credit for championing ideas 
which they did their best to stifle and then to betray. It is a 
beneficent scheme by which the joy of life is evened up. 
The "practical men" and conservatives have the pleasure of 
feeling that they are the only ones who can really make re- 
forms work. The prophetic minds have the satisfaction of 
knowing that the world must come their way whether it will 



THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY 4! 

or not, because they are on the way to justice, and justice 
is on the way to God. 

Here then we have a succession of men perhaps unique in Summary 
religious history for their moral heroism and spiritual insight. 
They were the moving spirits in the religious progress of their 
nation; the creators, directly or indirectly, of its law, its his- 
torical and poetical literature, and its piety; the men to whose 
personality and teaching Jesus felt most kinship; the men 
who still kindle modern religious enthusiasm. Most of us be- 
lieve that their insight was divinely given and that the course 
they steered was set for them by the Captain of history. 

We have seen that these men were almost indifferent, if not 
contemptuous, about the ceremonial side of customary reli- 
gion, but turned with passionate enthusiasm to moral right- 
eousness as the true domain of religion. Where would their 
interest lie if they lived to-day? 

We have seen that their religious concern was not restricted 
to private religion and morality, but dealt preeminently with 
the social and political life of their nation. Would they limit 
its range to-day? 

We have seen that their sympathy was wholly and pas- 
sionately with the poor and oppressed. If they lived to-day, 
would they place the chief blame for poverty on the poor 
and give their admiration to the strong? 

We have seen that they gradually rose above the kindred 
prophets of other nations through their moral interest in 
national affairs, and that their spiritual progress and educa- 
tion were intimately connected with their open-eyed com- 
prehension of the larger questions of contemporary history. 
Is it likely that the same attitude of mind which enlarged and 



42 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

purified the religion of the Hebrew leaders would deteriorate 
and endanger the religion of Christian leaders? 

We have seen that the religious concern in politics ceased 
only when politics ceased ; that religious individualism was a 
triumph of faith under abnormal conditions and not a normal 
type of religious life; and that the enforced withdrawal of 
religion from the wider life was one cause for the later nar- 
rowness of Judaism. Does this warrant the assumption that 
religion is most normal when it is most the affair of the 
individual ? 

We have seen that the sane political programme and the 
wise historical insight of the great prophets turned into 
apocalyptic dreams and bookish calculations when the nation 
lost its political self-government and training. How wise is 
it for the Christian leaders of a democratic nation to take 
their interpretation of God's purposes in history and their 
theories about the coming of the kingdom of God from the 
feeblest and most decadent age of Hebrew thought ? 

We have seen that the true prophets opposed the com- 
placent optimism of the people and of their popular spokes- 
men, and gave warning of disaster as long as it was coming. 
If they lived among the present symptoms of social and moral 
decay, would they sing a lullaby or sound the reveille ? 

No true prophet will copy a prophet. Their garb, their 
mannerisms of language, the vehemence of their style, belong 
to their age and not to ours. But if we believe in their divine 
mission and in the divine origin of the religion in which they 
were the chief factors, we cannot repudiate what was funda- 
mental in their lives. If any one holds that religion is essen- 
tially ritual and sacramental; or that it is purely personal; 
or that God is on the side of the rich; or that social interest 



THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY 43 

is likely to lead preachers astray; he must prove his case 
with his eye on the Hebrew prophets, and the burden of 
proof is with him. 

For the ordinary reader who may wish to follow up the subject, I 
know no book more generally accessible and more delightful than the 
two volumes in the "Expositor's Bibie" on "The Book of the Twelve 
Prophets," by George Adam Smith; especially the introductory chap- 
ters in each volume. 

I think it is only honest to state that the Old Testament has never 
been my professional specialty and the foregoing discussion lays no 
claim to authority. Doubtless the expert student will notice inaccura- 
cies in detail. But if he differs in fundamentals, the difference is not 
likely to be due to such minor points of information, but to his general 
conceptions of history and religion. 



CHAPTER H 

THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS ! 

The new A MAN was walking through the woods in springtime. The 

sight into &b was thrilling and throbbing with the passion of little 

the Gospel hearts, with the love-wooing, the parent pride, and the deadly 

fear of the birds. But the man never noticed that there was 

a bird in the woods. He was a botanist and was looking for 

plants. 

A man was walking through the streets of a city, pondering 
the problems of wealth and national well-being. He saw a 
child sitting on the curbstone and crying. He met children 
at play. He saw a young mother with her child and an old 
man with his grandchild. But it never occurred to him that 
little children are the foundation of society, a chief motive 
power in economic effort, the most influential teachers, the 
source of the purest pleasures, the embodiment of form and 
color and grace. The man had never had a child and his 
eyes were not opened. 

A man read through the New Testament. He felt no vibra- 
tion of social hope in the preaching of John the Baptist and 
in the shouts of the crowd when Jesus entered Jerusalem. 

1 Those who read only English are fortunate in having at their command 
two excellent books on the subject of this chapter: "Jesus Chnst and the 
Social Question," by Professor Francis G Peabody of Harvard, and " The 
Social Teaching of Jesus," by Professor Shailer Mathews of the University 
of Chicago. The former is very sympathetic in its treatment; the lattel 
perhaps more incisive in its methods. 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 45 

He caught no revolutionary note in the Book of Revelation. 
The social movement had not yet reached him. Jesus knew 
human nature when he reiterated: "He that hath ears to 
hear, let him hear." 

We see in the Bible what we have been taught to see there. 
We drop out great sets of facts from our field of vision. We 
read other things into the Bible which are not there. During 
the Middle Ages men thought they saw their abstruse scholas- 
tic philosophy and theology amid the simplicity of the gospels. 
They found in the epistles the priests and bishops whom 
they knew, with robe and tonsure, living a celibate life and 
obeying the pope. When the Revival of Learning taught 
men to read all books with literary appreciation and historic 
insight, many things disappeared from the Bible for their 
eyes, and new things appeared. A new language was abroad 
and the Bible began to speak that language. If the Bible 
was not a living power before the Reformation, it was 
not because the Bible was chained up and forbidden, as we 
are told, but because their minds were chained by precon- 
ceived ideas, and when they read, they failed to read. 

We are to-day in the midst of a revolutionary epoch fully 
as thorough as that of the Renaissance and Reformation. It 
is accompanied by a reinterpretation of nature and of his- 
tory. The social movement has helped to create the modern 
study of history. Where we used to see a panorama of wars 
and strutting kings and court harlots, we now see the struggle 
of the people to wrest a living from nature and to shake off 
their oppressors. The new present has created a new past. 
The French Revolution was the birth of modern democracy, 
and also of the modern school of history. 

The Bible shares in that new social reinterpretation. The 



46 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

stories of the patriarchs have a new lifelikeness when they 
are read in the setting of primitive social life. There are 
texts and allusions in the New Testament which had been 
passed by as of slight significance ; now they are like windows 
through which we see miles of landscape. But it is a slow 
process. The men who write commentaries are usually of 
ripe age and their lines of interest were fixed before the social 
movement awoke men. They follow the traditions of their 
craft and deal with the same questions that engaged their 
predecessors. Eminent theologians, like other eminent 
thinkers, live in the social environment of wealth and to that 
extent are slow to see. The individualistic conception of 
religion is so strongly fortified in theological literature and 
ecclesiastical institutions that its monopoly cannot be broken 
in a hurry. It will take a generation or two for the new 
social comprehension of religion to become common property. 
The first scientific life of Christ was written in 1829 by 
Karl Hase. Christians had always bowed in worship before 
their Master, but they had never undertaken to understand 
his life in its own historical environment and his teachings 
in the sense in which Jesus meant them to be understood by 
his hearers. He had stood like one of his pictures in Byzantine 
art, splendid against its background of gold, but unreal and 
unhuman. Slowly, and still with many uncertainties in de- 
tail, his figure is coming out of the past to meet us. He has 
begun to talk to us as he did to his Galilean friends, and the 
better we know Jesus, the more social do his thoughts and 
aims become. 

fesus not a Under the influence of this new historical study of Christ, 
and under the pressure of the intense new social interest in 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 47 

contemporary life, the pendulum is now swinging the othel 
way. Men are seizing on Jesus as the exponent of their own 
social convictions. They all claim him. "He was the first 
socialist." "Nay, he was a Tolstoian anarchist." "Not at 
all; he was an upholder of law and order, a fundamental 
opponent of the closed shop." It is a great tribute to his 
power over men and to the many-sidedness of his thought 
that all seek shelter in his great shadow. 

But in truth Jesus jacas not a social reformer of the modern 
type. Sociology and political economy were just as far out- 
side of his range of thought as organic chemistry or the 
geography of America. He saw the evil in the life of men and 
their sufferings, but he approached these facts purely from 
the moral, and not from the economic or historical point of 
view. He wanted men to live a right life in common, and 
only in so far as the social questions are moral questions did 
he deal with them as they confronted him. 

And he was more than a teacher-ef morality. Jesus had 
learned the greatest and deepest and rarest secret of all 
how to live a religious life. When the question of economic 
wants is solved for the individual and all his outward adjust- 
ments are as comfortable as possible, he may still be haunted 
by the horrible emptiness of his life and feel that existence is 
a meaningless riddle and delusion. If the question of the 
distribution of wealth were solved for all society and all lived 
in average comfort and without urgent anxiety, the question 
would still be how many would be at peace with their own 
souls and have that enduring joy and contentment which 
alone can make the outward things fair and sweet and rise 
victorious over change. Universal prosperity would not 
be incompatible with universal ennui and Wdtschmerz. 



48 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

Beyond the question of economic distribution lies the ques- 
tion of moral relations; and beyond the moral relations to 
men lies the question of the religious communion with that 
spiritual reality in which we live and move and have our deep- 
est being with God, the Father of our spirits. Jesus had 
realized the life of God in the soul of man and the life of man 
in the love of God. That was the real secret of his life, the 
well-spring of his purity, his compassion, his unwearied cour- 
age, his unquenchable idealism : he knew the Father. But if 
he had that greatest of all possessions, the real key to the se- 
cret of life, it was his highest social duty to share it and help 
others to gain what he had. He had to teach men to live as 
children in the presence of their Father, and no longer as 
slaves cringing before a despot. He had to show them that 
the ordinary life of selfishness and hate and anxiety and 
chafing ambition and covetousness is no life at all, and that 
they must enter into a new world of love and solidarity and 
inward contentment. There was no service that he could 
render to men which would equal that. All other help lay 
in concentric circles about that redemption of the spirit and 
flowed out from it. 

No comprehension of Jesus is even approximately true 
which fails to understand that the heart of his heart was 
religion. No man is a follower of Jesus in the full sense 
who has not through him entered into the same life with 
God. But on the other hand no man shares his life with 
God whose religion does not flow out, naturally and without 
effort, into all relations of his life and reconstructs everything 
that it touches. Whoever uncouples the religious and the 
social life has not understood Jesus. Whoever sets any 
bounds for the reconstructive power of the religious life over 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 49 

the social relations and institutions of men, to that extent 
denies the faith of the Master. 

If we want to understand the real aims of Jesus, we must His relation 
watch him in his relation to his own times. He was not a T T cm * 

porary 

timeless religious teacher, philosophizing vaguely on human movements 
generalities. He spoke for his own age, about concrete con- 
ditions, responding to the stirrings of the life that surged 
about him. We must follow him in his adjustment to the 
tendencies of the time, in his affinity for some men and his 
repulsion of others. That is the method by which we classify 
and locate a modern thinker or statesman. 

The Christian movement began with John the Baptist. All 
the evangelists so understood it. 1 John himself accepted 
Jesus as the one who was to continue and consummate his 
own work. Jesus linked John closely to himself. He paid 
tribute to the rugged bravery and power of the man, and as- 
serted that the new religious era had begun with John as an era 
of strenuous movement and stir. " The Law and the prophets 
were until John ; from that time the gospel of the kingdom of 
God is preached, and every man entereth violently into it." 2 

Both Jesus and the people generally felt that in John they 
had an incarnation of the spirit of the ancient prophets. He 
wore their austere garb ; he shared their utter fearlessness, 
their ringing directness of speech, their consciousness of speak- 
ing an inward message of God. The substance of his mes- 
sage was also the same. It was the old prophetic demand 
for ethical obedience. He and his disciples fasted 8 and he 

1 Mark i ; Matthew 3 , Luke 3 ; John i. 

2 Matthew n, 2-19, Luke 7. 18-35, 16. 16. 
Matthew 1 1. 18, 9. 14. 

B 



50 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

taught them certain forms of prayer, 1 but in his recorded 
teaching to the people there is not a word about the customary 
ritual of religion, about increased Sabbath observance, about 
stricter washings and sacrifices, or the ordinary exercises of 
piety. He spoke only of repentance, of ceasing from wrong- 
doing. He hailed the professional exponents o* religion who 
came to hear him, as a brood of snakes wriggling away from 
the flames of the judgment. He demolished the self-con- 
fidence of the Jew and his pride of descent and religious 
monopoly, just as Amos or Jeremiah did. If God wanted 
children of Abraham, they were cheap and easy to get ; God 
could turn the pebbles of the Jordan valley into children of 
Abraham by the million. But what God wanted, and found 
hard to get, was men who would quit evil. Yet God was 
bound to get such and would destroy all others. Now was 
the time to repent and by the badge of baptism to enroll with 
the purified remnant. 2 

The people asked for details. What would repentance 
involve? "What then must we do?" He replied: "He 
that hath two coats, let him share with him that hath none; 
and he that hath food, let him do likewise." The way to 
prepare for the Messianic era and to escape the wrath of the 
Messiah was to institute a brotherly life and to equalize social 
inequalities. If John thus conceived of the proper prepara- 
tion for the Messianic salvation, how did he conceive of the 
Messianic era itself ? Luke records his advice to two special 
classes of men, the tax-gatherers and the soldiers. The tax- 
gatherers had used their legal powers for grafting and lining 
their pockets with the excess extorted from the people. The 
soldiers had used their physical force for the same ends, like 
1 Luke ii i. * Matthew 3 5-12. 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 5! 

a New York policeman taking a banana from the push-cart 
while the Italian tries to look pleasant. John told them 
to stop being parasites and to live on their honest earn- 
ings. 1 

Would any preacher have defined repentance in these 
terms if his eyes had not been open to the social inequality 
about him and to the exploitation of the people by the repre- 
sentatives of organized society? Luke characterized John's 
purpose by quoting the call of Isaiah to make ready the way 
of the Lord by levelling down the hills and levelling up the 
valleys and making the crooked things straight. John would 
not have been so silent about the ordinary requirements of 
piety, and so terribly emphatic in demanding the abolition of 
social wrongs, if he had not felt that here were the real 
obstacles to the coming of the kingdom of God. From this 
preaching, coupled with our general knowledge of the times, 
we can infer what his points of view and his hopes and 
expectations were, and also what the real spring of the 
remarkable popular movement was which he initiated. It 
was the national hope of Israel that carried the multitudes into 
the desert to hear John. The judgment which he pro- 
claimed was not the individual judgment of later Christian 
theology, but the sifting of the Jewish people preparatory to 
establishing the renewed Jewish theocracy. The kingdom 
of God which he announced as close at hand was the old hope 
of the people, and that embraced the restoration of the 
Davidic kingdom, the reign of social justice, and the triumph 
of the true religion. John was a true descendant of the 
prophets in denying that Jewish descent constituted a claim 
to share in the good time coming. He put the kingdom on 

1 Luke 3 10-14 



52 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

an ethical basis. But it was still a social hope and it re 
quired social morality. According to our evangelists the 
work of John came to an end because he had attacked 
Herod Antipas for his marriage with Herodias. 1 According 
to Josephus 2 it was because Herod feared the great influence 
of John over the people and wanted to forestall a revo- 
lutionary rising under his impulse. The two explanations 
are not incompatible. Josephus had very direct lines of 
information about John 8 and his intimation deserves the 
more weight because his book was written for a Roman 
audience and his general tendency was to pass with discreet 
silence the revolutionary tendencies in his people. 

Now Jesus accepted John as the forerunner of his own 
work. It was the popular movement created by John which 
brought Jesus out of the seclusion of Nazareth. He received 
John's baptism as the badge of the new Messianic hope and 
repentance. His contact with John and the events at the 
Jordan were evidently of decisive importance in the progress 
of his own inner life and his Messianic consciousness. When 
he left the Jordan the power of his own mission was upon him. 
He took up the formula of John : "The kingdom of God has 
come nigh; repent!" He continued the same baptism. He 
drew his earliest and choicest disciples from the followers of 
John. When John was dead, some thought Jesus was John 
risen from the dead. He realized clearly the difference 
between the stern ascetic spirit of the Baptist and his own 
sunny trust and simple human love, 4 but to the end of his 

1 Matthew 14 3-5. 

2 Josephus, " Antiquities," XVIII, 5, 2. 
'Renan, "Life of Jesus," 152-153. 

4 Matthew n. 16-19; Mark 2, 18-22. 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 53 

life he championed John and dared the Pharisees to deny his 
divine mission. 1 It seems impossible to assume that his own 
fundamental purpose, at least in the beginning of his ministry, 
was wholly divergent from that of John. In the main he 
shared John's national and social hope. His aim too was the 
realization of the theocracy. 

\ Moreover, in joining hands with John, Jesus clasped 
hands with the entire succession of the prophets with whom 
he classed John. Their words were his favorite quotations. 
Like them he disregarded or opposed the ceremonial elements 
of religion and insisted on the ethical. Like them he sided 
with the poor and oppressed. As Amos and Jeremiah fore- 
saw the conflict of their people with the Assyrians and the 
Chaldeans, so Jesus foresaw his nation drifting toward the 
conflict with Rome, and like them he foretold disaster, the 
fall of the temple and of the holy city. That prophetic type 
of religion which we have tried to set forth in the previous 
chapter, and which constituted the chief religious heritage 
of his nation, had laid hold on Jesus and he had laid hold of 
it and had appropriated its essential spirit. In the poise and 
calm of his mind and manner, and in the love of his heart, he 
was infinitely above them all. 2 But the greatest of all proph- 
ets was still one of the prophets, and that large interest in the 
national and social life which had been inseparable from the 
religion of the prophets was part of his life too. The pre- 
sumption is that Jesus shared the fundamental religious 
purpose of the prophets. If any one asserts that he aban- 
doned the collective hope and gave his faith solely to religious 

1 Mark n 27-33 

* This superiority is beautifully expressed in Wellhausen's " Israelitische 
und Jtidische Geschichte," Chapter XXIV. 



54 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

individualism, he will have to furnish express statements in 
which Jesus disavows the religious past of his people. 

The pur- The historical background which we have just sketched 
Jesus: the must ever ^ e kept ' m m ^ ' m understanding the life and 
m f P ur P se f J esus - He was not merely an initiator, but a 
consummator. Like all great minds that do not merely 
imagine Utopias, but actually advance humanity to a new 
epoch, he took the situation and material furnished to him 
by the past and moulded that into a fuller approximation to 
the divine conception within him. He embodied the pro- 
phetic stream of faith and hope. He linked his work to that 
of John the Baptist as the one contemporary fact to which he 
felt most inward affinity. 

Jesus began his preaching with the call: "The time is 
fulfilled; the kingdom of God is now close at hand; repent 
and believe in the glad news." 1 The kingdom of God 
continued to be the centre of all his teaching as recorded by 
the synoptic gospels. His parables, his moral instructions, 
and his prophetic predictions all bear on that. 

We have no definition of what he meant by the phrase. 
His audience needed no definition. I* was then a familiar 
conception and phrase. The new Ihing w <, simply that this 
kingdom was at last on the point of coming. 

We are not at all in that situation to-day. Any one who 
has tried to grasp the idea will have realized how vague and 
elusive it seems. It stands to-day for quite a catalogue of 
ideas. 2 To the ordinary reader of the Bible, "inheriting 

1 Mark i, 15. 

1 See the list of definitions in Shailer Malhew* ' The Social leaching of 
Jesus," 53, note i. 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 55 

the kingdom of heaven " simply means being saved and 
going to heaven. For others it means the millennium. For 
some the organized Church; for others "the invisible 
Church." For the mystic it means the hidden life with God. 
The truth is that the idea in the sense in which Jesus and his 
audiences understood it almost completely passed out of 
Christian thought as soon as Christianity passed from the 
Jewish people and found its spiritual home within the great 
Graeco-Roman world. The historical basis for the idea was 
wanting there. The phrase was taken along, just as an 
emigrant will carry a water-jar with him; but the water from 
the well of Bethlehem evaporated and it was now used to 
dip water from the wells of Ephesus or from the Nile and 
Tiber. The Greek world cherished no such national reli- 
gious hope as the prophets had ingrained in Jewish thought ; 
on the other hand it was intensely interested in the future life 
for the individual, and in the ascetic triumph over flesh 
and matter. Thus the idea which had been the centre of 
Christ's thought was not at all the centre of the Church's 
thought, and even the comprehension of his meaning 
was lost and overlaid. Only some remnants of it persisted 
in the millennial hope and in the organic conception of the 
Church. 

The historical study of our own day has made the first 
thorough attempt to understand this fundamental thought of 
Jesus in the sense in which he used it, but the results of this 
investigation are not at all completed. There are a hundred 
critical difficulties in the way of a sure and consistent inter- 
pretation j.hat would be acceptable to all investigators. The 
limits of space and the purpose of this book will not permit 
me to do justice to the conflicting views. I shall have to set 



50 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

down my own results with only an occasional reference to 
the difficulties that beset them. 

We saw in the previous chapter that the hope of the Jewish 
people underwent changes in the course of its history. 1 It 
took a wider and more universal outlook as the political 
horizon of the people widened. It became more individual 
in its blessings. It grew more transcendent, more purely 
future, more apocalyptic and detached from present events, 
as the people were deprived of their political autonomy and 
health. Moreover it was variously understood by the differ- 
ent classes and persons that held it. Because this hope was 
so comprehensive and all-embracing, every man could 
select and emphasize that aspect which appealed to him. 
Some thought chiefly of the expulsion of the Roman power 
with its despotic officials, its tax-cxtorters, and its hated sym- 
bols. Others dwelt on the complete obedience to the Law 
which would prevail when all the apostates were cast out and 
all true Israelites gathered to their own. And some quiet 
religious souls hoped for a great outflow of grace from God 
and a revival of true piety; as the hymn of Zacharias ex- 
presses it : "that we, being delivered out of the hand of our 
enemies, should serve him without fear, in holiness and right- 
eousness before him all our days." 2 But even in this spiritual 
ideal the deliverance from the national enemies was a con- 
dition of a holy life for the nation. Whatever aspect any man 
emphasized, it was still a national and collective idea. It 
involved the restoration of Israel as a nation to outward 

1 On the later Messianic hope of the Jewish people, see Shailer Mathews, 
"The Messianic Hope in the New Testament" , Schurer, " The Jewish People 
in the Time of Jesus Chnst," 29; also 32, V. 

* Luke i. 74-75- 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 57 

independence, security, and power, such as it had under the 
Davidic kings. It involved that social justice, prosperity, 
and happiness for which the Law and the prophets called, 
and for which the common people always long. It involved 
that religious purity and holiness of which the nation had 
always fallen short. And all this was to come in an ideal 
degree, such as God alone by direct intervention could 
bestow. 

When Jesus used the phrase "the kingdom of God," it 
inevitably evoked that whole sphere of thought in the minds 
of his hearers. If he did not mean by it the substance of 
what they meant by it, it was a mistake to use the term. If 
he did not mean the consummation of the theocratic hope, 
but merely an internal blessedness for individuals with the 
hope of getting to heaven, why did he use the words around 
which all the collective hopes clustered ? In that case it was 
not only a misleading but a dangerous phrase. It unfettered 
the political hopes of the crowd ; it drew down on him the 
suspicion of the government ; it actually led to his death. 

Unless we have clear proof to the contrary, we must assume 
that in the main the words meant the same thing to him and to 
his audiences. But it is very possible that he seriously modi- 
fied and corrected the popular conception. That is in fact 
the process with every great, creative religious mind : the 
connection with the past is maintained and the old terms are 
used, but they are set in new connections and filled with 
new qualities. In the teaching of Jesus we find that he con- 
sciously opposed some features of the popular hope and 
sought to make it truer. 

For one thing he would have nothing to do with bloodshed 
and violence. When the crowds that were on their way to 



58 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

the Passover gathered around him in the solitude on the 
Eastern shore of the lake and wanted to make him king and 
march on the capital, he eluded them by sending his in- 
flammable disciples away in the boat, and himself going up 
among the rocks to pray till the darkness dispersed the 
crowd. 1 Alliance with the Messianic force-revolution was 
one of the temptations which he confronted at the outset and 
repudiated; 2 he would not set up God's kingdom by using 
the devil's means of hatred and blood. With the glorious 
idealism of faith and love Jesus threw away the sword and 
advanced on the intrenchments of wrong with hand out- 
stretched and heart exposed. 

He repudiated not only human violence, he even put 
aside the force which the common hope expected from 
heaven. He refused to summon the twelve legions of angels 
either to save his life or to set up the kingdom by slaying the 
wicked. John the Baptist had expected the activity of the 
Messiah to begin with the judgment. The fruitless tree 
would be hewn down ; the chaff would be winnowed out and 
burned; and there was barely time to escape this. 3 Jesus 
felt no call to that sort of Messiahship. He reversed the pro- 
gramme ; the judgment would come at the end and not at the 
beginning. First the blade, then the ear, and then the full 
corn in the ear, and at the very last the harvest. Only at the 
end would the tares be collected ; only when the net got to 
shore would the good fish be separated from the useless 
creatures of the sea. Thus the divine finale of the judgment 
was relegated to the distance ; the only task calling for present 
action was to sow the seed. 4 

1 Matthew 14. 22-23, John 6. 14-15 8 Matthew 3 10-12 

1 Matthew 4. 8-10. 4 The parables of Matthew 13 ; also Mark 4. 26-29 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 59 

The popular hope was all for a divine catastrophe. The 
kingdom of God was to come by a beneficent earthquake. 
Some day it would come like the blaze of a meteor, "with 
outward observation," and they could say: "Lo, there it 
is!" 1 We have seen that the prophetic hope had become 
catastrophic and apocalyptic when the capacity for political 
self-help was paralyzed. When the nation was pinned down 
helplessly by the crushing weight of the oppressors, it had to 
believe in a divine catastrophe that bore no causal relation to 
human action. The higher spiritual insight of Jesus re- 
verted to the earlier and nobler prophetic view that the 
future was to grow out of the present by divine help. While 
they were waiting for the Messianic cataclysm that would 
bring the kingdom of God ready-made from heaven, he saw 
it growing up among them. He took his illustrations of its 
coming from organic life. It was like the seed scattered by 
the peasant, growing slowly and silently, night and day, by 
its own germinating force and the food furnished by the 
earth. The people had the impatience of the uneducated 
mind which does not see processes, but clamors for results, 
big, thunderous, miraculous results. Jesus had the scientific 
insight which comes to most men only by training, but to the 
elect few by divine gift. He grasped the substance of that 
law of organic development in nature and history which our 
own day at last has begun to elaborate systematically. His 
parables of the sower, the tares, the net, the mustard-seed, and 
the leaven are all polemical in character. He was seeking to 
displace the crude and misleading catastrophic conceptions 
by a saner theory about the coming of the kingdom. This 
conception of growth demanded not only a finer insight, but a 

1 Luke 17 20-21. 



60 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

higher faith. It takes more faith to see God in the little begin* 
nings than in the completed results ; more faith to say that 
God is now working than to say that he will some day work. 
Because Jesus believed in the organic growth of the new 
society, he patiently fostered its growth, cell by cell. Every 
human life brought under control of the new spirit which he 
himself embodied and revealed was an advance of the king- 
dom of God. Every time the new thought of the Father and 
of the right life among men gained firmer hold of a human 
mind and brought it to the point of action, it meant progress. 
It is just as when human tissues have been broken down by 
disease or external force, and new tissue is silently forming 
under the old and weaving a new web of life. Jesus in- 
carnated a new type of human life and he was conscious of 
that. By living with men and thinking and feeling in their 
presence, he reproduced his own life in others and they gained 
faith to risk this new way of living. This process of as- 
similation went on by the natural capacities inherent in the 
social organism, just as fresh blood will flow along the 
established arteries and capillaries. When a nucleus of 
like-minded men was gathered about him, the assimilating 
power was greatly reenforced. Jesus joyously felt that the 
most insignificant man in his company who shared in this 
new social spirit was superior to the grandest exemplifica- 
tion of the old era, John the Baptist. 1 Thus Jesus worked on 
individuals and through individuals, but his real end was not 
individualistic, but social, and in his method he employed 
strong social forces. He knew that a new view of life would 
have to be implanted before the new life could be lived and 
that the new society would have to nucleate around personal 

1 Matthew zz. zz. 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 6l 

centres of renewal. But his end was not the new soul, but 
the new society; not man, but Man. 

The popular hope was a Jewish national hope. Under 
the hands of Jesus it became human and therefore universal. 
John the Baptist had contradicted the idea that a Jew was 
entitled to participation in the good time coming by virtue of 
his national descent. Every time Jesus met a Gentile, we 
can see the Jewish prejudices melt away and he gladly 
discovered the human brotherhood and spiritual capacity in 
the alien. "Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great 
faith, no, not in Israel," and he immediately makes room at 
the Messianic table-round for those who shall come from the 
east and the west to sit down with the patriarchs, while the 
sons of the kingdom, the Jews who were properly entitled to 
it, would be cast out. 1 He reminded the indignant audience 
at Nazareth that the great Elijah had found his refuge with a 
heathen Phoenician and Elisha had healed only a Syrian 
leper. 2 When one leper out of ten thanked him, he took 
pains to point out that this one was a Samaritan foreigner, 8 
and when he wanted to hold up a model of human neighborli- 
ness, he went out of his way to make him a Samaritan, an 
alien, and a heretic. 4 Thus the old division of humanity 
into Jews and Gentiles began to fade out in his mind, and a 
new dividing line ran between the good and the evil, between 
those who opened their heart to the new life and those who 
closed it. He approached the bold cosmopolitanism of Paul, 
that "in Christ Jesus there is neither Jew nor Greek."* 
But as soon as religion was thus based, not on national 

1 Matthew 8 10-12. 4 Lukeio 25-37. 

2 Luke 4 23-30 6 Galatians 3. 28. 
Luke 17. 11-19. 



62 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

prerogatives, but on human needs and capacities, the king- 
dom of God became universal in scope, an affair of all hu- 
manity. This was a modification of immense importance. 

Another subtle and significant change in the conception 
of the kingdom came through the combination of all these 
changes. If the kingdom was not dependent on human 
force nor on divine catastrophes, but could quietly grow by 
organic processes ; if it was not dependent on national recon- 
struction, but could work along from man to man, from group 
to group, creating a new life as it went along; then the king- 
dom in one sense was already here. Its consummation, of 
course, was in the future, but its fundamental realities were 
already present. 

This is the point on which scholars are most at odds. Was 
the kingdom in Christ's conception something eschato- 
logical, all in the future, to be inaugurated only by a heavenly 
catastrophe ? Or was it a present reality ? There is material 
for both views in his sayings. It is important here to remem- 
ber that the sayings of Jesus were handed down by oral 
repetition among Christians for thirty or forty years before 
they were recorded in our gospels. But any one can test for 
himself the fact that with the best intentions of veracity, a 
message or story changes a little when it passes from one 
mind to another, or even when it is repeated often by the 
same man. Something of his tastes and presuppositions 
flows into it. Unless we assume an absolute divine preven- 
tion of any such change, we must allow that it is wholly prob- 
able that the Church which told and retold the sayings of 
Jesus insensibly moulded them by its own ideas and hopes. 
And if that is true, then no part of the sayings of Christ 
would be so sure to be affected as his sayings about his 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 03 

return and the final consummation of the kingdom. That 
was the hottest part of the faith of the primitive Church and 
anything coming in contact with it would run fluid. But 
any modifications on this question would all be likely to be 
in the direction of the catastrophic hope. That was the 
form of the Jewish hope before Christ touched it ; he cer- 
tainly did not succeed in weaning his disciples from it ; it 
was the form most congenial to cruder minds ; it chimed best 
with the fervid impatience of the earliest days ; its prevalence 
is attested by the wide circulation of the Jewish apocalyptic 
literature among Christians. It is thus exceedingly probable 
that the Church spilled a little of the lurid colors of its own 
apocalypticism over the loftier conceptions of its Master, 
and when we read his sayings to-day, we must allow for that 
and be on the watch against it. 

Like the old prophets, Jesus believed that God was the 
real creator of the kingdom; it was not to be set up by man- 
made evolution. It is one of the axioms of religious faith to 
believe that. He certainly believed in a divine consumma- 
tion at the close. But the more he believed in the supreme 
value of its spiritual and moral blessings, and in the power 
of spiritual forces to mould human life, the more would the 
final act of consummation recede in importance and the 
present facts and processes grow more concrete and im- 
portant to his mind. It was an act of religious faith for John 
the Baptist to assert that the long-desired kingdom was 
almost here. It was a vastly higher act of faith for Jesus 
to say that it was actually here. Others were scanning the 
horizon with the telescope to see it come; he said, "It is 
already here, right in the midst of you." l Any one who 

1 Luke 17. 21. 



04 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

reversed the direction of his life and became as a child could 
enter into it. 1 Any one who saw that love to God and man 
was more than the whole sacrificial ritual was not far from 
the kingdom. 2 The healing power going out to the demon- 
ized was proof that a stronger one had come upon the lord of 
this world and was stripping him of his property, and that the 
kingdom was already come upon them. 3 Thus the future 
tense was changing to the present tense under the power 
of faith and insight into spiritual realities. In the gos- 
pel and epistle of John we have a confirmation of this 
translation of the future tense into the present. The ex- 
pected antichrist is already here ; the judgment is now quietly 
going on; the most important part of the resurrection is 
taking place now. The discourse about the future coming 
of the Lord in the Synoptists is replaced in John by the dis- 
course about the immediate coming of the Comforter. 4 

This, then, is our interpretation of the situation. Jesus, 
like all the prophets and like all his spiritually minded 
countrymen, lived in the hope of a great transformation of 
the national, social, and religious life about him. He shared 
the substance of that hope with his people, but by his pro- 
founder insight and his loftier faith he elevated and trans- 
formed the common hope. He rejected all violent means and 
thereby transferred the inevitable conflict from the field of 
battle to the antagonism of mind against mind, and of heart 
against lack of heart. He postponed the divine catastrophe 
of judgment to the dim distance and put the emphasis on the 
growth of the new life that was now going on. He thought 
less of changes made en masse, and more of the immediate 

1 Matthew 18. 1-4. 'Matthew 12 28 

2 Mark 12. 28-34. * i John 2. 18. John 3. 16-21, 5. 19-29 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 65 

transformation of single centres of influence and of social 
nuclei. The Jewish hope became a human hope with uni- 
versal scope. The old intent gaze into the future was turned 
to faith in present realities and beginnings, and found its task 
here and now. 

Luke says that the boy Jesus "advanced in wisdom and 
stature, and in favor with God and men" ; that is, he grew in 
his intellectual, physical, religious, and social capacities. It 
is contrary to faith in the real humanity of our Lord to 
believe that he ever stopped growing. The story of his 
temptation is an account of a forward leap in his spiritual 
insight when he faced the problems of his Messianic task. 
When a growing and daring mind puts his hand to a great 
work, his experiences in that work are bound to enlarge and 
correct hib conception of the purpose and methods of the 
work. It is wholly in harmony with any true conception of 
the life of Jesus to believe that his conception of the king- 
dom became vaster and truer as he worked for the kingdom, 
and that he moved away from the inherited conceptions 
along the lines which our study has suggested. 

But after all this has been said, it still remained a social 
hope. The kingdom of God is still a collective conception, 
involving the whole social life of man. It is not a matter of 
saving human atoms, but of saving the social organism. It 
is not a matter of getting individuals to heaven, but of trans- 
forming the life on earth into the harmony of heaven. If he 
put his trust in spiritual forces for the founding of a righteous 
society, it only proved his sagacity as a society-builder. If he 
began his work with the smallest social nuclei, it proved his 
patience and skill. But Jesus never fell into the fundamental 
heresy of later theology ; he never viewed the human individ- 



66 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

ual apart from human society; he never forgot the gregarious 
nature of man. His first appeal was to his nation. When 
they flocked about him and followed him in the early Gali- 
lean days, it looked as if by the sheer power of his spirit he 
would swing the national soul around to obey him, and he 
was happy. There must have been at least a possibility of 
that in his mind, for he counted it as guilt that the people 
failed to yield to him. He did not merely go through the 
motions of summoning the nation to fealty, knowing all the 
while that such a thing lay outside of his real plan. No one 
will understand the life of Jesus truly unless he has asked 
himself the question, What would have happened if the 
people as a whole had accepted the spiritual leadership of 
Jesus ? The rejection of his reign involved the political doom 
of the Galilean cities and of Jerusalem ; 1 would the acceptance 
of his reign have involved no political consequences? The 
tone of sadness in his later ministry was not due simply to the 
approach of his personal death, but to the consciousness that 
his purpose for his nation had failed. He began then to 
draw his disciples more closely about him and to create the 
nucleus of a new nation within the old; it was the best thing 
that remained for him to do, but he had hoped to do better. 
He also rose then to the conviction that he would return and 
accomplish in the future what he had hoped to accomplish 
during his earthly life. The hope of the Coming and the 
organization of the Church together enshrine the social ele- 
ment of Christianity; the one postpones it, the other partly 
realizes it. Both are the results of a faith that rose trium- 
phal over death, and laid the foundations of a new common- 
wealth of God even before the old had been shaken to ruins, 
1 Matthew n. 20-24; Luke 19. 41-44. 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 67 

AD the teaching of Jesus and all his thinking centred The king- 
about the hope of the kingdom of God. His moral teach- JjJ^ 
ings get their real meaning only when viewed from that icsof Jesus 
centre. He was not a Greek philosopher or Hindu pundit 
teaching the individual the way of emancipation from the 
world and its passions, but a Hebrew prophet preparing men 
for the righteous social order. The goodness which he sought 
to create in men was always the goodness that would enable 
them to live rightly with their fellow-men and to constitute a 
true social life. 

All human goodness must be social goodness. Man is 
fundamentally gregarious and his morality consists in being 
a good member of his community. A man is moral when 
he is social; he is immoral when he is anti-social. The 
highest type of goodness is that which puts freely at the ser- 
vice of the community all that a man is and can. The 
highest type of badness is that which uses up the wealth and 
happiness and virtue of the community to please self. All 
this ought to go without saying, but in fact religious ethics 
in the past has largely spent its force in detaching men from 
their community, from marriage and property, from interest 
in political and social tasks. 

The fundamental virtue in the ethics of Jesus was love, 
because love is the society-making quality. Human life 
originates in love. It is love that holds together the basal 
human organization, the family. The physical expression 
of all love and friendship is the desire to get together and 
be together. Love creates fellowship. In the measure 
in which love increases in any social organism, it will 
hold together without coercion. If physical coercion is 
constantly necessary, it is proof that the social organiza- 



68 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

tion has not evoked the power of human affection and 
fraternity. 

Hence when Jesus prepared men for the nobler social 
order of the kingdom of God, he tried to energize the faculty 
and habits of love and to stimulate the dormant faculty of 
devotion to the common good. Love with Jesus was not a 
flickering and wayward emotion, but the highest and most 
steadfast energy of a will bent on creating fellowship. 

The force of that unitive will is best seen where fellowship 
is in danger of disruption. If a man has offended us, that 
fact is not to break up our fraternity, but we must forgive and 
forgive and forgive, and always stand ready to repair the 
torn tissues of fellowship. 1 If we remember that we have 
offended and our brother is now alienated from us, we are to 
drop everything, though it be the sacrifice we are just offering 
in the temple, and go and re-create fellowship. 2 If a man 
hates us or persecutes and reviles us, we must refuse to lei 
fraternity be ruined, and must woo him back with love and 
blessings. 8 If he smites us in the face, we must turn the 
other cheek instead of doubling the barrier by returning the 
blow. 4 These are not hard and fast laws or detached rules 
of conduct. If they are used as such, they become unwork- 
able and ridiculous. They are simply the most emphatic 
expressions of the determination that the fraternal relation 
which binds men together must not be ruptured. If a child 
can be saved from its unsocial self-will only by spanking it, 
parental love will have to apply that medicine. If a rough 
young fellow will be a happier member of society for being 
knocked down, we must knock him down and then sit down 

1 Matthew 18. 21-22. 'Matthew 5 43-48. 

9 Matthew 5. 23-24. 4 Matthew 5. 38-42. 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 69 

beside him and make a social man of him. The law of love 
transcends all other laws. It does not stop where they stop, 
and occasionally it may cut right across their beaten tracks. 
When Mary of Bethany broke the alabaster jar of ointment, 
the disciples voiced the ordinary law of conduct: it was 
wasteful luxury ; the money might have fed the poor. Jesus 
took her side. While the disciples were thinking of the 
positions they were to get when their master became king, 
her feminine intuition had seen the storm-cloud lowering over 
his head and had heard the mute cry for sympathy in his soul, 
and had given him the best she had in the abandonment of 
love. "This is a beautiful deed that she has done." The 
instinct of love had been a truer guide of conduct than all 
machine-made rules of charity. 1 

Jesus was very sociable. He was always falling into con- 
versation with people, sometimes in calm disregard of the 
laws of propriety. When his disciples returned to him at the 
well of Samaria, they were surprised to find him talking with 
a woman ! 2 Society had agreed to ostracize certain classes, 
for instance the tax-collectors. Jesus refused to recognize 
such a partial negation of human society. He accepted their 
invitations to dinner and invited himself to their houses, 
thereby incurring the sneer of the respectable as a friend of 
publicans and a glutton and wine-drinker. 8 He wanted men 
to live as neighbors and brothers and he set the example. 
Social meals are often referred to in the gospels and fur- 
Dished him the illustrations for much of his teaching. 4 His 
meals with his disciples had been so important a matter in 
their life that they continued them after his death. His 

1 Mark 14. 3-9. * Matthew xx. 19. 

John 4. 27. 4 Luke 14. 



/O CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

manner in breaking the bread for them all had been so char- 
acteristic that they recognized him by it after his resurrection. 1 
One of the two great ritual acts in the Church grew out of 
his last social meal with his friends. If we have ever telt 
how it brings men together to put their feet under the same 
table, we shall realize that in these elements of Christ's life a 
new communal sociability was working its way and creating 
a happy human society, and Jesus refused to surrender so 
great an attainment to the ordinary laws of fasting. 2 

Pride disrupts society. Love equalizes. Humility freely 
takes its place as a simple member of the community. When 
Jesus found the disciples disputing about their rank in the 
kingdom, he rebuked their divisive spirit of pride by setting a 
little child among them as their model ; 3 for an unspoiled 
child is the most social creature, swift to make friends, happy 
in play with others, lonely without human love. When Jesus 
overheard the disciples quarrelling about the chief places at 
the last meal, he gave them a striking object lesson in the 
subordination of self to the service of the community, by 
washing their dusty sandalled feet. 4 

All these acts and sayings receive their real meaning when 
we think of them in connection with the kingdom of God, 
the ideal human society to be established. Instead of a 
society resting on coercion, exploitation, and inequality, Jesus 
desired to found a society resting on love, service, and equality. 
These new principles were so much the essence of his char- 
acter and of his view of .life, that he lived them out spon- 
taneously and taught them in everything that he touched in 
his conversations or public addresses. God is a father; men 

1 Luke 24. 30-31. 8 Mark 9 33-37. 

'Mark 2. 18-19. 4 Luke 22. 24-30; John 13. 1-20. 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 71 

are neighbors and brothers; let them act accordingly. Let 
them love, and then life will be true and good. Let them 
seek the kingdom, and all things would follow. Under no 
circumstance let them suffer fellowship to be permanently 
disrupted. If an individual or a class was outside of fraternal 
relations, he set himself to heal the breach. The kingdom 
of God is the true human society; the ethics of Jesus taught 
the true social conduct which would create the true society. 
This would be Christ's test for any custom, law, or institution : 
does it draw men together or divide them? 

In our study of the Old Testament prophets, we saw that insistence 
indifference or hostility to ritual religion was a characteristic 



of prophetic religion, and that this turned the full power of enc et 
the religious impulse into the sluice of ethical conduct. Jesus 
was a successor of the prophets in this regard. 

He used the temple as a place to meet men. He valued 
the temple as a house of prayer and fiercely resented the 
intrusion of the money-making spirit within it. 1 But other- 
wise it was of no religious importance to him. According to 
the Gospel of John he foretold a stage of religion in which 
the old burning issue of the true place of worship would be 
antiquated and dead. 2 Stephen, who understood Jesus better 
than most of the apostles, had scant reverence for the temple. 8 
The temple sacrifices are mentioned by Jesus only to say 
that the duty of fraternal reconciliation takes precedence of 
the duty of proceeding with sacrificial ritual. 4 

Since the Exile and the dispersion of the people, the minor 
and personal acts of ritual had really become of greater 

1 Mark n. 15-19. ' Acts 6. 14, 7. 44-50. 

John 4. 19-24. ' Matthew 5. 23-24. 



72 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

practical importance in the life of the Jews than the temple 
sacrifices. About some of these minor ritual acts Jesus was 
in perpetual collision with the guardians of customary piety. 
They did violence to human needs to keep the Sabbath in- 
tact. They wanted men to look solemn and fast in contrition 
even when they were happy in God. They concentrated 
attention on the things that a man must not touch and eat 
for fear of ceremonial defilement, and thereby made men in- 
different to moral defilement. Jesus on the other hand held 
that the Sabbath was made to serve man, not to break him ; 
that a man should fast only when fasting was the fit outward 
expression of his inward state of mind ; and that no outward 
contact with tabooed things would make any difference in 
the moral status of a man, for that is determined only by 
the good or evil thoughts and impulses which proceed 
from his own soul. In his indifference to the law of 
clean and unclean food he not only brushed aside the 
traditions of the elders, but contradicted the sacred Law 
itself. 1 

These religious duties were supposed to serve God. Jesus 
was indifferent to them when they did not serve men, and 
hostile to them when they harmed men. He ridiculed the 
models of piety who were so punctilious about ritual ob- 
servances and so indifferent to wrong moral relations. They 
faithfully gave a tithe of everything to religion, down to the 
mint, anise, and cummin in their garden-beds, but such little 
things as justice and mercy and good faith, the qualities 
on which human society rests and which constitute the real 

1 On the Sabbath Matthew 12 1-14, Luke 13 10-17 On fasting 
Mark 2. 18-22 On tabooed food and ceremonial lustrations Mark 7 
1-23, Matthew 15 1-20 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 73 

burden of the Law, they quite overlooked. 1 When he saw a 
Pharisee straining the milk lest haply he should swallow a 
drowned gnat and so transgress the Law in eating a strangled 
beast, he saw there a type of what these religious men were 
doing all the time . straining out gnats and swallowing camels. 2 
They wiped the outside of the platter, but within it was 
"filled with extortion and excess"; their food was acquired 
by injustice and consumed in luxury. 3 Thus religion, which 
ought to be the source of morality, drugged and blinded the 
moral judgment, so that the very teachers of religion locked 
the door of the kingdom of God m men's faces 4 They even 
nullified the fundamental obligation of the child to the parent 
by teaching that if a man gave money to the temple, and thus 
supported the ritual worship of God, he was free from the 
duty of supporting his parents 5 Thus religion had become 
a parasite on the body of morality and was draining it instead 
of feeding it. 

This revolutionary attitude to inherited religion, which so 
jarred the earnest and painstaking representatives of tradi- 
tional piety, is explained by Christ's conception of the king- 
dom of God. They thought it was a Jewish affair and would 
rest on careful religious observances. He thought it was a 
human affair and would rest on right human relations. He 
would tolerate nothing that hallowed wrong, not even religion. 
He had no patience with religious thought which hampered 
the attainment of a right social life To them the written 
Law inherited from the past was the supreme thing ; to Jesus 
the better human life to be established in the future was the 
supreme thing. 

1 Matthew 23 23. 4 Matthew 23. 13. 

2 Matthew 23 24 B Mark 7. 1-13. 

3 Matthew 23 25-26 



74 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

EBB teach- Like all the greatest spiritual teachers of mankind, Jesus 
realized a profound danger to the better self in the pursuit of 
wealth. Whoever will watch the development of a soul that 
has bent its energies to the task of becoming rich, can see 
how perilous the process is to the finer sense of justice, to 
the instinct of mercy and kindness and equality, and to th< T 
singleness of devotion to higher ends; in short, to all the 
higher humanity in us. It is a simple fact: "Ye cannot 
serve God and mammon;" each requires the best of a man. 
"The cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches" 
note that quality of deceitfulness will choke the good seed 
like rank weeds which appropriate soil and sunshine for their 
own growth. 1 When a man lays up treasure, his heart almost 
inevitably is with his treasure. Then gradually the inner 
light in him is darkened; the eye of his conscience is filmed 
and blurred. 2 Wealth is apt to grow stronger than the man 
who owns it. It owns him and he loses his moral and 
spiritual freedom. The spirit of the world is always delud- 
ing men into thinking that "a man's life consisteth in the 
abundance of things that he possesseth," 3 but when he builds 
his life on that theory, he is lost to the kingdom of God. 
And the worst of it is that he does not know it. The harlot 
and the drunkard have their hours of remorse and self- 
abasement; the covetous man does not even know that he 
is on the downward way. Saint Francis Xavier, the noble 
Jesuit missionary, said that in the confessional men had 
confessed to him all sins that he knew and some that he had 
never imagined, but none had ever of his own accord con- 
fessed that he was covetous. 

But Jesus did not fear riches merely as a narcotic soul 
1 Matthew 13 22. 2 Matthew 6, 19-34. ' Luke 12. 15. 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 75 

poison. In his desire to create a true human society he en- 
countered riches as a prime divisive force in actual life. It 
wedges society apart in horizontal strata between which real 
fellow-feeling is paralyzed. It lifts individuals out of the 
wholesome dependence on their fellows and equally out of 
the full sense of responsibility to them. That is the charm 
of riches and their curse. 

This is the key to the conversation of Jesus with the ric^ 
young man, who was so honestly and lovably anxious to have 
a share in the Messianic salvation. 1 He could truthfully say 
that he had lived a good life. Jesus accepted his statement, 
but if he would be perfect, he bade him get rid of his wealth 
and join the company of the disciples. This demand has 
been understood either as a test or as a cure. Some think 
that it was merely a test ; if he had consented to give up his 
wealth, it would not have been necessary to give it up. Some 
think it was a cure for the love of money which was really 
needed in this exceptional case. On either supposition the 
advice concerned merely this young man's soul; it was 
medicine to be swallowed by him for his own good alone. 
But Jesus immediately rises from this concrete case to the 
general assertion that it is hard for any rich man to enter 
the kingdom of God, harder than for a camel to wedge 
through the eye of a needle. The young man who was de- 
parting with clouded face was simply a demonstration of a 
general fact. Clearly here was a case where the heart was 
anchored to its treasure. 

The solution for this "hard saying" has been sought in 
the remark quoted only in Mark : 2 " How hard it is for them 
that trust in riches to enter the kingdom." A man may have 

1 Mark 10. 17-31. * Mark 10. 24. 



70 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

riches safely, if only he will not trust in them for salvatioix 
It is easy to satisfy that requirement. But unfortunately the 
best manuscripts do not contain the phrase about trusting 
The critical editions of the Greek text drop it or place it in 
the margin. Some early copyist probably felt as anxious to 
dull the sharpness of the saying as some modern preachers. 

The solution lies in another direction. We think of the 
salvation of the individual in the life to come, and find it hard 
that so fine a young fellow should be barred out of heaven 
because he was rich. Jesus was thinking of the righteous 
society on earth which he was initiating and of the young 
man's fitness for that. Suppose the young man had kept his 
property and had thus joined the discipleship. How would 
that have affected the spirit of the group? Would not the 
others have felt jealously that he was in a class by himself? 
If Jesus had shown him favor, would not even the Master's 
motives have been suspected? If he had replenished the 
common purse from his private wealth, it would have given 
them all a more opulent living; it would have attracted 
selfish men and would have paralyzed the influence of Jesus 
on the poor. Then the crowds would have been at his heels, 
not merely for healing, but for the loaves and fishes with 
dessert added. Judas would have been deeply pleased with 
such a reenforcement of the apostolate, but Jesus would have 
gone through the same sorrow which came upon Francis of 
Assisi when property was forced upon his Order and its early 
spirit was corrupted. It is all very well to say that rich and 
poor are alike in Christ, but in fact only exceptional char- 
acters, like Jesus himself, can sit at a rich man's table and be 
indifferent to the fact that he is rich. Others can forget it 
for a while under the pressure of a great common danger or 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 77 

sorrow or joy, but in general the sense of equality will prevail 
only where substantial equality exists. The presence of the 
rich young man would have been ruinous to the spirit of the 
discipleship and would have put a debased interpretation on 
the hope of the kingdom. Jesus did not ask him to hand 
over his property for the common purse, as the Church in 
later times did constantly, but simply to turn it back to social 
usefulness and come down to the common level. 

The meeting of Jesus and the rich young man has often 
been painted, but always as a private affair between the man 
and Jesus. At the St. Louis Exposition there was a painting 
representing Jesus sitting in a barnlike building with a group 
of plain people about him, women, old men, and the disciples. 
Before him stands the young man richly dressed, a bird of 
very different feather. Jesus by his gesture is evidently 
drawing in the listening group. It was not a matter between 
the man and God, but between the man and God and the 
people. The theological interpretations of the passage, like 
the artistic, have failed to take account of this third factor in 
the moral situation. If the kingdom of God is the true 
human society, it is a fellowship of justice, equality, and love. 
But it is hard to get riches with justice, to keep them with 
equality, and to spend them with love. The kingdom of 
God means normal and wholesome human relations, and it 
is exceedingly hard for a rich man to be in normal human 
relations to others, as many a man has discovered who has 
honestly tried. It can be done only by an act of renuncia- 
tion in some form. 

It gives a touch of cheerful enjoyment to exegetical studies 
to watch the athletic exercises of interpreters when they con- 
front these sayings of Jesus about wealth. They find it 



78 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

almost as hard to get around the needle's eye as the camel 
would find it to get through. The resources of philology 
have been ransacked to turn the "camel" into an anchor- 
rope, and Oriental antiquarian lore has been summoned to 
prove that the "needle's eye" was a little rear-gate of the 
Oriental house through which the camel, by judiciously going 
down on its knees, could work its way. There is a manifest 
solicitude to help the rich man through. There has not 
been a like fraternal anxiety for the Pharisee ; he is allowed 
to swallow his camel whole. 1 In the case of the parable of 
the unjust steward 2 there are something like thirty-six dif- 
ferent interpretations on record. They differ so widely in 
their allegorical explanations that we are left in doubt if the 
lord of the steward is God or the devil. Yet the parable 
seems simple if one is not afraid of breaking crockery by 
handling it as Jesus did. 

A rich man had farmed out his lands to various tenants on 
shares. A steward managed the whole and collected the 
rents. His master became suspicious of him and gave him 
notice of dismissal. It would take effect as soon as his 
accounts were made up. The steward confronted a painful 
situation. He looked at his white hands and concluded that 
manual labor was not in his line. His social pride would not 
permit him to beg. So he concluded, as others have done, 
to "graft." He used the brief term of authority still left 
him to get on the right side of the tenant farmers by reducing 
on paper the amount of their harvests and consequently of 
the shares due to the proprietor. He could hope to enjoy 
their comfortable hospitality for some time in return for the 
substantial present he made them out of his master's pocket 

1 Matthew 23. 24. 'Luke 16. 1-9. 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 79 

In fact they would have to "stand in" with their confederate 
to keep him silent. When his master learned of it, he could 
not help admiring the cleverness of the rascal, even though 
it was at his expense. 

Jesus too admired the shrewdness and foresight which the 
men of the present social order exhibit within their plane of 
life. If only the children of light would be as wise in theirs I 
His application is that the men who hold the dishonest money 
of the present era will do well to use the brief term of power 
left to them before the Messianic era begins. Let them do 
kindness to the children of the kingdom, and they may hope 
by their gratitude to get some sort of borrowed shelter when 
the situation is reversed and the pious poor are on top. 1 

The story shows a very keen insight into the contemporary 
methods of grafting and into the state of mind of the grafter. 
No one could have told the story who had not thought in- 
cisively about social conditions. Interpreters have found it 
necessary to defend Jesus because he holds up an immoral 
transaction for admiration and imitation. Probably Jesus 
never imagined that a teacher of his well-known bent of mind 
would be supposed to approve of financial trickery. It is 
precisely because he was so completely outside of and above 
this whole realm of dealing that he could play with the 
material as he did, just as a confirmed socialist might use the 
watering of stock or the "promotion" of a mining company 
as an illustration of the beauties of socialism. It is hard to 
imagine Jesus without a smile of sovereign humor in advising 
these great men to get a plank ready for the coining 
deluge. 

1 The parable stops with v 9. What follows seems to consist of kindred 
sayings of Jesus which the editor has grouped here. 



8O CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

The parable of the steward has often been so allegorized 
and spiritualized that the application to the rich has almost 
evaporated. His contemporary hearers saw the point. " The 
Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things 
and they scoffed at him." The Greek verb means liter- 
ally: "they turned up their nose at him." 1 Jesus replied 
to their scoff by telling the story of Dives and Lazarus. 3 
It was not intended to give information about the future life. 
Its sting is in the reference to the five brothers of Dives, 
who were living as he had lived and were in imminent 
peril of faring as he fared. They were the men who re- 
fused to do what the parable of the steward advised them 
to do. 

There is a notable difference between our gospels in re- 
gard to the amount of teaching on wealth which they report, 
and in regard to the sharpness of edge which it bears. The 
Gospel of John is at one extreme ; we should hardly know 
that Jesus had any interest in questions of property if we 
had only the fourth gospel There the centre of his teach- 
ing is not the kingdom of God, but the eternal life ; his in- 
terests are religious and theological. The divine figure of 
the Son of God moves through the doubts and discussions 
of men like the silver moon sailing serene through the clouds. 
Luke is at the other extreme. He alone reports the parables 
of the rich fool, the unjust steward, and Dives and Lazarus. 
He also gives a sharper social turn to sayings reported by 
the other gospels. For instance, in the beatitudes of Matthew, 
Jesus blesses the poor in spirit, those who hunger and thirst 
after righteousness, the meek and the pure in heart. In Luke 
he cheers the socially poor, the physically hungry, and puts 

1 Luke 1 6. 14. * Luke 16. 19-31. 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 8l 

his meaning beyond question by following up his blessings 
on the poor with corresponding woes to the rich, the satiated, 
and the frivolous. 1 

Many critics doubt that Jesus taught as Luke reports him. 
They think that Luke drew this class of material from a 
Jewish-Christian source which was tainted with Ebionitic 
tendencies. I fail to be convinced by their arguments. The 
other evangelists report so much of a similar nature that the 
sections reported by Luke alone seem quite in keeping with 
the mind of Jesus. The material in question seems to bear 
the literary and artistic coinage of Christ's intellect as much 
as any other material in the gospels. The "Ebionitic sec- 
tions" run all through the narrative of Luke, so that they 
were not drawn from some brief document covering a small 
portion of Christ's life. The critical suspicions seem to rest 
on a moral dislike for the radical attitude toward wealth 
taken by Jesus according to Luke, rather than on sound 
critical principles. But if it is a question of moral insight, 
we may fairly doubt who saw more truly, Jesus or the modern 
middle-class critics. 

An ascetic distrust of property and the property instinct 
very early affected the Christian Church after its transition 
to the Greek world, and it is important to be on the watch 
against any influence of this alien tendency on those who 
reported the sayings of Christ. But the radical teachings of 
Jesus are not ascetic, but revolutionary, and that distinction 
is fundamental. What is called Ebionitic is simply the strong 
democratic and social feeling which pervaded later Judaism. 
The probability is rather that the later reporters softened 
this social radicalism and spiritualized his thought, than that 

1 Compare Matthew 5 1-12 with Luke 6. 20-26. 

G 



82 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

some Ebionitic followers of Jesus imported their social un 
rest into his spiritual teaching. 

In any case, Luke put his indorsement on this conception 
of Christ's thought. He was the only writer in the New 
Testament, so far as we know, who was of Greek descent 
and character. He had a singular affinity for all that was 
humane, generous, heroic, and humanly stirring and touch- 
ing, and he tells his stories with a distinct artistic note. Men 
like Stephen, Barnabas, and Paul were his heroes. To him 
alone we owe the parable of the good Samaritan, of the 
prodigal son, of the Pharisee and publican, and the story of 
the great sinner and the penitent thief. The socialist among 
the evangelists was also the one who has given us the richest 
expressions of the free grace of God to sinful men, without 
which our evangel would be immeasurably poorer. If he 
was tainted with Ebionitic and Jewish spirit in reporting the 
teachings on wealth, how did he escape being tainted with 
the legal and narrow spirit of Jewish Christianity which must 
have saturated his supposed Ebionitic sources ? 

As with the Old Testament prophets, the fundamental sym- 
pathies of Jesus were with the poor and oppressed. In the 
glad opening days of his preaching in Galilee, when he wanted 
to unfold his programme, he turned to the passage of Isaiah 
where the prophet proclaimed good tidings to the poor, re- 
lease to the captives, liberty to the bruised, and the accept- 
able year of the Lord for all. Now, said Jesus, that is to be 
fulfilled. 1 To John in prison he offered as proof that the 
Messiah had really come, that the helpless were receiving 
help, and the poor were listening to glad news. 2 The Church 
1 Luke 4 16-22 Matthew n. 2-5. 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 83 

has used the miracles of Jesus for theological purposes as 
evidences of his divine mission. According to the Synoptic 
gospels, Jesus himself flatly refused to furnish them for such 
a purpose to the contemporary theologians. 1 His healing 
power was for social help, for the alleviation of human suffer- 
ing. It was at the service of any wretched leper, but not of 
the doubting scribes. To get the setting of his life we must 
remember the vast poverty and misery of Oriental countries. 
It threatened to ingulf him entirely and to turn him into a 
travelling medical dispensary. 

It is often possible nowadays to detect the social studies 
and sympathies of a public speaker by an unpurposed phrase 
or allusion which shows where his mind has been dwelling. 
This is constantly true of Jesus. If he had not known how 
much a strayed sheep or a lost coin meant to the poor, he 
would not have told the anecdotes about their joy in re- 
covering them. 2 If he had not appreciated the heroic gener- 
osity of the poor, he would not have breathed more quickly 
when he saw the widow dropping her two mites in the temple 
treasury. 8 He knew how large a share the lawyers get in 
settling an estate and how little is left for the widow. 4 He 
knew how bitterly hard it is for the poor to set the judicial 
machinery of organized society in motion in their favor; 
hence he used the illustration of the widow and the judge. 1 
He knew the golden rule of "society": dine those by whom 
you want to be dined. Those who most need a dinner are 
never asked to have a dinner. He suggested to his hosts a 
reversal of this policy, 8 and he loved to think of the Messianic 

1 Matthew 12. 38-39, 16. 1-4. * Mark 12 4^, 

1 Luke 15. i-io. * Luke 18. 1-8. 

1 Mark 12. 41-44. Luke 14. 12-14. 



84 CHRISTIAN11Y AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

salvation as an actual reversal on a grand scale, in which the 
regular guests would be left out in the cold, while the halt 
and blind were gathered from the highways and hedges to 
enjoy the fat things. 1 No man would have laid on the colors 
in the opening description of Dives at his feasting and 
Lazarus among the dogs as Jesus did, 2 who had not felt 
vividly the gulf that separates the social classes. If that 
parable came from the lips of Jesus, that is enough to mark 
his social spirit. Ex ungue leonem. 

Jesus proceeded from the common people. He had worked 
as a carpenter for years, and there was nothing in his think- 
ing to neutralize the sense of class solidarity which grows up 
under such circumstances The common people heard him 
gladly 3 because he said what was in their hearts. His trium- 
phal entry into Jerusalem was a poor man's procession ; the 
coats from their backs were his tapestry, their Ihroats his 
brass band, and a donkey was his steed. During the last 
days in Jerusalem he was constantly walking into the lion's 
cage and brushing the sleeve of death. It was the fear of 
the people which protected him while he bearded the powers 
that be. His midnight arrest, his hasty trial, the anxious 
efforts to work on the feelings of the crowd against him, were 
all a tribute to his standing with the common people. 

Dr. W. M. Thomson, in his "Land and the Book," 4 
beautifully says: "With uncontrolled power to possess all, 
he owned nothing. He had no place to be born in but an- 
other man's stable, no closet to pray in but the wilderness, 
no place to die but on the cross of an enemy, and no gr ive 
but one lent by a friend." That, perhaps, overstates his 

1 Luke 14. 15-24, Matthew 22 1-14. 8 Mark 12. 37 

2 Luke 16. 19-21. : p 407. 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 85 

poverty. But it is fair to say that by birth and training, by 
moral insight and conviction, by his sympathy for those who 
were down, and by his success in winning them to his side, 
Jesus was a man of the common people, and he never deserted 
their cause as so many others have done. Whenever the 
people have caught a glimpse of him as he really was, their 
hearts have hailed Jesus of Nazareth as one of them. 

There was a revolutionary consciousness in Jesus; not, of The rev< 
course, in the common use of the word " revolutionary," which 



connects it with violence and bloodshed. But Jesus knew ness of 
that he had come to kindle a fire on earth. Much as he loved 
peace, he knew that the actual result of his work would be 
not peace but the sword. His mother in her song had 
recognized in her own experience the settled custom of God 
to "put down the proud and exalt them of low degree," to 
"fill the hungry with good things and to send the rich empty 
away." l King Robert of Sicily recognized the revolutionary 
ring in those phrases, and thought it well that the Magnificat 
was sung only in Latin. The son of Mary expected a great 
reversal of values. The first would be last and the last would 
be first. 2 He saw that what was exalted among man was an 
abomination before God, 3 and therefore these exalted things 
had no glamour for his eye. This revolutionary note runs 
even through the beatitudes where we should least expect it. 
The point of them is that henceforth those were to be blessed 
whom the world had not blessed, for the kingdom of God 
would reverse their relative standing. Now the poor and 
the hungry and sad were to be satisfied and comforted; the 
meek who had been shouldered aside by the ruthless would 
1 Luke i 52-53 2 Mark 10. 31 8 Luke 16. 15. 



86 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

gel their chance to inherit the earth, and conflict and per 
secution would be inevitable in the process. 1 

We are apt to forget that his attack on the religious leaders 
and authorities of his day was of revolutionary boldness and 
thoroughness. lie called the ecclesiastical leaders hypocrites, 
blind leaders who fumbled in their casuistry, and everywhere 
missed the decisive facts in teaching right and wrong. Their 
piety was no piety; their law was inadequate; they harmed 
the men whom they wanted to convert 2 Even the publicans 
and harlots had a truer piety than theirs. 3 If we remembci 
that religion \vas still the foundation of the Jewish State, 
and that the religious authorities were the pillars of existing 
society, much as in mediaeval Catholic Europe, v\e shall 
realize how revolutionary were his invectives. It was like 
Luther anathematizing the Catholic hierarchy. 

His mind \\as similarly liberated from spiritual subjec- 
tion to the existing civil powers. He called Herod, his own 
liege sovereign, "that fox." 4 When the mother of James 
and John tried to steal a march on the others and secure for 
her sons a pledge of the highest places in the Messianic 
kingdom/' Jesus felt that this was a backsliding into the 
scrambling methods of the present social order, in which 
each tries to make the others serve him, and he is greatest 
who can compel service from most. In the new social order, 
which was expressed in his own life, each must seek to give 
the maximum of service, and he would be greatest who would 
serve utterly. In that connection he sketched with a few 
strokes the pseudo-greatness of the present aristocracy: "Ye 

1 Matthew 51-12 * Luke 13 32 

2 See the whole of Matthew 23. 6 Matthew 20 20-28. 

3 Matthew 21 23-32. 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 8} 

know that they which are supposed to rule over the nations 
lord it over them, and their great ones tyrannize over them. 
Thus shall it not be among you." 1 The monarchies and 
aristocracies have always lived on the fiction that they exist 
for the good of the people, and yet it is an appalling fact how 
few kings have loved their people and have lived to serve 
Usually the great ones have regarded the people as their 
oyster In a similar saying reported by Luke, Jesus wittily 
adds that these selfish exploiters of the people graciously 
allow themselves to be called " Benefactors." 2 His eyes were 
open to the unintentional irony of the titles in which the 
"majesties," " excellencies, 1 ' and "holintsses" of the world 
have always decked thcmschcs Every time the inbred 
instinct to seek prccclence cropped up among his disciples 
lie sternly suppressed it They must not allow themselves 
to be called Rabbi or Father or Master, "for all yc are 
brothers." 3 Christ's ideal of society involved the abolition 
of rank and the extinction of those badges of rank in \\hich 
former inequality was incrusted. The only title to greatness 
was to be distinguished service at cost to self 4 All this shows 
the keenest insight into the masked selfishness of those who 
hold power, and involves a revolutionary consciousness, 
emancipated from reverence for things as they are 

The text, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's," 5 seems to 
mark off a definite sphere of power for the emperor, 
coordinate with God's sphere. It implies passive obedience 

1 The English translation, "exercise authority over them," is far too 
weak to do justice to the preposition in Kare^ovfid^oiKriv Weizsaec Ler trans- 
lates it vcfgrwaUigcn, the Twentieth Centurv New Testament, "oppress" 
It carries the meaning both of injustice and coercion 

2 Luke 22 25. 4 Matthew 20. 26-28 
" Matthew 23. i-ia. Matthew 22. 15-22 



88 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

to constituted authority and above all guarantees Caesar's 
right to levy taxes. Consequently it has been very dear to 
all who were anxious to secure the sanctions of religion for 
the existing political order. During the Middle Ages that 
text was one of the spiritual pillars that supported the Holy 
Roman Empire. 1 But in fact we misread it if we take it as 
a solemn decision, fixing two coordinate spheres of life, the 
religious and the political. His opponents were trying to 
corner Jesus. If he said "pay the Roman tax," he dis- 
gusted the people. If he said "do not pay," Rome would 
seize him, for its patience was short when its taxes were 
touched. Jesus wittily cut the Gordian knot by calling for 
one of the coins. It bore the hated Roman face and stamp on 
it clear evidence whence it issued and to whom it belonged. 
If they filled their pockets with Caesar's money, let them 
pay Caesar's tax. The significant fact to us is that Jesus 
spoke from an inward plane which rose superior to the entire 
question. It was a vital question for Jewish religion; it 
did not even touch the religion of Jesus. Moreover, it was 
not purely a religious question with them; matters that 
concern money somehow never are purely religious. In 
paying tribute to Caesar, they seemed to deny the sovereignty 
of Jehovah, Israel 's only king ; that was, indeed, one point for 
grief. But another point was that they had to pay, pay, pay ; 
and money is such a dear thing! Jesus felt none of their 
fond reverence for cash. Hence he could say, Give to 
Caesar the stuff that belongs to him, and give to God what 
he claims. 

We have another incident in which his inward attitude to 
taxation comes out. 2 The Jews annually paid a poll-tax of 

1 See Bryce, "Holy Reman Empire," 112-113. 3 Matthew 17. 24-27. 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 89 

half a shekel for the support of the temple worship, which 
sufficed to maintain it in splendor. The collector met Peter 
and asked if his master did not intend to pay. Peter, prob- 
ably knowing his custom hitherto, said, " Certainly." When 
he came into the house, Jesus, who seems to have overheard 
the conversation, asked him from whom the kings of the 
earth usually exacted taxes, from their subjects or their sons. 
Peter rightly judged that the subjects usually did the paying, 
and the members of the royal family were exempt. "Then," 
said Jesus, "as we are sons of God and princes of the blood- 
royal, we are exempt from God's temple-tax. But lest we 
give offence, go catch a fish and pay the tax." We all know 
by experience that the expression of the face and eye are often 
quite essential for understanding the spirit of a conversation. 
We must think of Jesus with a smile on his lips during this 
conversation with his friend Peter. Yet something of his 
most fundamental attitude to existing institutions found 
expression in this gentle raillery. He was inwardly free. 
He paid because he wanted to, and not because he had to. 

Camille Desmoulins, one of the spiritual leaders of the 
French Revolution, called Jesus "le bon sansculotte." Emile 
de Laveleye, the eminent Belgian economist, who had the 
deepest reverence for Christianity as a social force, said, "If 
Christianity were taught and understood conformably to the 
spirit of its Founder, the existing social organism could 
not last a day." 1 James Russell Lowell said, "There is 
dynamite enough in the New Testament, if illegitimately 
applied, to blow all our existing institutions to atoms." 2 

These men have not seen amiss. Jesus was not a child of 

1 " Primitive Property," xxxi. 

1 In his essay on " The Progress of the World." 



90 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

this world. He did not revere the men it called great ; he 
did not accept its customs and social usages as final; his 
moral conceptions did not run along the grooves marked out 
by it. He nourished within his soul the ideal of a common 
life so radically different from the present that it involved a 
reversal of values, a revolutionary displacement of existing 
relations. This ideal was not merely a beautiful dream to 
solace his soul. He lived it out in his own daily life. 
He urged others to live that way. He held that it was the 
only true life, and that the ordinary way was misery and folly. 
He dared to believe that it would triumph. When he saw 
that the people were turning from him, and that his nation 
had chosen the evil way and was drifting toward the rocks 
that would destroy it, unutterable sadness filled his soul, but 
he never abandoned his faith in the final triumph of that 
kingdom of God for which he had lived For the present, 
the cross; but beyond the cross, the kingdom of God. If 
he was not to achieve it now, he would return and do it 
then. 

That was the faith of Jesus. Have his followers shared 
it? We shall see later what changes and limitations the 
original purpose and spirit of Christianity suffered in the 
course of history. But the Church has never been able to 
get entirely away from the revolutionary spirit of Jesus. It 
is an essential doctrine of Christianity that the world is 
fundamentally good and practically bad, for it was made by 
God, but is now controlled by sin. If a man wants to be 
a Christian, he must stand over against things as they are and 
condemn them in the name of that higher conception of life 
which Jesus revealed. If a man is satisfied with things as 
they are, he belongs to the other side. For many centuries 



THE SOCIAL AIMS OF JESUS 91 

the Church felt so deeply that the Christian conception of life 
and the actual social life are incompatible, that any one who 
wanted to live the genuine Christian life, had to leave the 
world and live in a monastic community. Protestantism has 
abandoned the monastic life and settled down to live in the 
world. If that implies that it accepts the present condition 
as good and final, it means a silencing of its Christian protest 
and its surrender to "the world." There is another alter- 
native. Ascetic Christianity called the world evil and left it. 
Humanity is waiting for a revolutionary Christianity which 
will call the world evil and change it. We do not want "to 
blow all our existing institutions to atoms," but we do want 
to remould every one of them. A tank of gasolene can blow 
a car sky-high in a single explosion, or push it to the top of a 
hill in a perpetual succession of little explosions. We need 
a combination beween the faith of Jesus in the need and the 
possibility of the kingdom of God, and the modern compre- 
hension of the organic development of human society. 

We saw at the outset of our discussion that Jesus was not 
a mere social reformer. Religion was the heart of his life, 
and all that he said on social relations was said from the reli- 
gious point of view. He has been called the first socialist. 
He was more; he was the first real man, the inaugurator of a 
new humanity. But as such he bore within him the germs 
of a new social and political order. He was too great to be 
the Saviour of a fractional part of human life. His redemp- 
tion extends to all human needs and powers and relations. 
Theologians have felt no hesitation in founding a system of 
speculative thought on the teachings of Jesus, and yet Jesus 
was never an inhabitant of the realm of speculative thought. 
He has been made the founder and organizer of a great 



92 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

ecclesiastical machine, which derives authority for its offices 
and institutions from him, and yet "hardly any problem of 
exegesis is more difficult than to discover in the gospels an 
administrative or organizing or ecclesiastical Christ. " * There 
is at least as much justification in invoking his name to-day as 
the champion of a great movement for a more righteous social 
life. He was neither a theologian, nor an ecclesiastic, nor a 
socialist. But if we were forced to classify him either with 
the great theologians who elaborated the fine distinctions of 
scholasticism; or with the mighty popes and princes of the 
Church who built up their power in his name; or with the 
men who are giving their heart and life to the propaganda of 
a new social system where should we place him ? 
1 Peabody, " Jesus Christ and the Social Question," 89. 



CHAPTER III 

THE SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY 

To what extent were the social aims of Jesus seized and 
carried out by the Church which called itself by his name? 
Did his early followers have the same all-embracing and 
lofty conceptions of the kingdom of God, the same passionate 
love for justice, and the same humane tenderness and broth- 
erly freedom which make the soul of Jesus the luminous 
centre of our moral and spiritual world? 

It would be miraculous if they had. "What hand and 
brain went ever paired?" There is a gap even between the 
ideal cherished by any lofty mind and the realization which 
he can give to it in his own action. There are few men who 
maintain their first love unchilled to their colder age and their 
early purposes untarnished by policy and concession to things 
as they are. But as soon as the thoughts of a great spiritual 
leader pass to others and form the animating principle of a 
party or school or sect, there is an inevitable drop. The 
disciples cannot keep pace with the sweep of the master. 
They flutter where he soared. They coarsen and material- 
ize his dreams. They put their trust in forms and organiza- 
tion where he dared to trust in the spirit. They repeat his 
words, but they make mere formulas of his prophetic figures 
of speech. They may join the Order of St. Francis, but they 
will not call the birds their sisters and the sun their brother. 
Belike Brother Elias becomes the head of the "little brothers" 

93 



94 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

whom the poet-saint of Assisi called out to serve the Lady 
Poverty. 1 That is the tragedy of all who lead. The farther 
they are in advance of their times, the more will they be mis- 
understood and misrepresented by the very men who swear 
by their name and strive to enforce their ideas and aims. If 
the followers of Jesus had preserved his thought and spirit 
without leakage, evaporation, or adulteration, it would be a 
fact unique in history. 

But they did not. Few held fast his spiritual liberty; the 
Jewish Christians remained in some measure of servility to 
the old Law ; the Gentile Christians early fashioned a new 
Law and obeyed it in the old spirit of legalism. Few rose to 
his conception of worshipping God simply by a reverent and 
loving life ; the Church early developed Christian sacraments 
and superstitious rites with which to placate and appease the 
Father of Jesus. Few made his conceptions of the right 
human life their inward possession. Imagine Jesus, with the 
dust of Galilee on his sandals, coming into the church of St. 
Sophia in Constantinople in the fifth century, listening to 
dizzy doctrinal definitions about the relation of the divine and 
human in his nature, watching the priests performing the 
gorgeous acts of worship, reciting long and set prayers, and 
offering his own mystical body as a renewed sacrifice to their 
God ! Has any one ever been misunderstood as Jesus has ? 

If the religious and moral thoughts and aims of Jesus were 
thus paralyzed and distorted from the outset, we may take it 
for granted as a matter of course that his social aims and 
ideas suffered a similar diminution in scope, force, and purity. 
If, on the other hand, we should find that primitive Christi- 
anity was still inspired by high social aims and still instinct 

1 See Sabafaer, " Life of St. Francis." 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY 95 

with social energy, it would furnish an added argument of the 
highest significance for the strength of the social impetus 
originally imparted by Jesus and inherent in the historical 
movement inaugurated by him, 

It is necessary to remind ourselves that our information The limit* 
for the purposes of such an inquiry is meagre and incomplete, information 
The early Christians did not belong to the literary class with 
whom the impulse to record its doings on paper is more or less 
instinctive. They had no motive for making elaborate his- 
torical records of their life. They expected the speedy end of 
the world and never dreamed of a posterity that would cherish 
every scrap of information about them. Even the sayings of 
the Master were not recorded till years had gone by. What- 
ever was written, was to serve some immediate and passing 
occasion, and in writings of that sort the most important 
facts, which really make up the bulk of the common life, 
are often not even mentioned, because they are so well 
understood by all parties concerned that they go without 
saying. We have no document whatever which sets out to 
furnish a coherent account of the moral or social life of the 
early Christian communities. 

Moreover, if there were any radical, political, or social ideas 
current in early Christianity, there was good cause for not 
writing them down or publishing them freely. The Roman 
government was tolerant and almost indifferent on questions 
of religious belief and worship, but suspicious and alert 
against anything that smelled like smouldering revolutionary 
fire. 1 Even social clubs and benevolent associations were 
under sharp surveillance lest they mask political designs. 

1 Harnack, " Expanse of Christianity," Bk. IE, Chap V. 



96 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

There is one relic of primitive Christianity which embod* 
ies revolutionary hopes and passions, and it is significant 
that it purposely veils its meaning. The contemporarj 
political powers are described under the image of beasts; 
the capital city is called by the mystic name of Babylon ; the 
keyword of its allegories is hidden in the number 666, in 
which the letters of the word are translated into their nu- 
merical equivalents. 1 Political thought and utterance are so 
absolutely free in England and America that we can scarcely 
conceive along what subterranean channels political and 
social ideas have to move under more despotic conditions; 
how unsigned letters and poems pass from hand to hand; 
how a whisper, an innocent name, or a sprig of flowers will 
convey a world of meaning. But what is meant to evade con- 
temporary scrutiny, is likely also to escape the knowledge of 
later times and to perish without trace. We make much of 
those passages of the New Testament which prove the politi- 
cal loyalty of the early Christians to the Roman Empire But 
possibly one purpose in Luke's mind when he wrote the Book 
of Acts for the use of Theophilus was to present an apologetic 
of Christianity to the upper classes; and when Paul ex- 
horted the Romans to obey the government, he may have had 
in mind the possibility that in the capital of the world his 
letter might drop into influential hands. If there was even a 
shade of such a side-motive in these writings, we must allow 
for it in constructing our conception of the political attitude 
of primitive Christianity. 

The suggestion just made is somewhat conjectural. The 
following is quite certain. No books of the first century have 
reached us unless later times had interest enough in them to 

1 Apoc. 13. 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY 97 

copy them. The survival of a book depended, not on the 
interest it awakened in the first century, nor on the interest it 
would awaken to-day, but on the interest which the third or 
fourth century took in it. If it was written by some man 
whom that subsequent age revered as a Christian authority, 
or if it lent welcome support to doctrines or institutions then 
struggling for the mastery, it was copied and quoted and had 
a chance of coming to our hands. If not, the material on 
which the earliest copies were written was sure to perish in 
some one of a hundred ways, and the book itself disappeared 
from human sight forever. There were books which were 
widely read and loved in the Church of the second century, 
but which fell into disrepute and oblivion becaasc they did 
not suit the tastes and standards of the age schooled by 
the great doctrinal controversies. It is wholly likely that the 
same fate would befall any popular literature in which the 
social feelings and hopes of the earliest generations were 
embodied. They, too, became antiquated and uncongenial to 
the churchmen of the later age, especially after the Church 
had emerged from its oppressed condition and was fostered 
and fed by the Empire. 

There were various important drifts and movements in 
early Chnstianity, but only those which were finally vic- 
torious in Catholic Christianity secured a fair and perma- 
nent historical record. For instance, the great Gnostic move- 
ment, which was as important in the world of thought in the 
second century as the evolutionary idea is in our own age, was 
finally thrust out by the Church, and of all its rich literature 
we have only one book left ; otherwise we are dependent for 
our information on the partisan statements and garbled quo- 
tations of its enemies. 



98 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

The Jewish Christian Church was at first the whole of 
the Christian Church. Gradually it was outstripped by the 
rapid growth of the Gentile churches, and through its doctrinal 
conservatism and prejudices, and through the force of out- 
ward events, it was left in the lurch of the larger movement and 
gradually separated from it in sympathy. Jewish Christian 
bodies survived to the fifth century, but they were then re- 
garded as heretical and their literature had little chance of 
survival. The Epistle of James and the Revelation of John 
are more or less directly the product of this Jewish Christi- 
anity. They were saved from the deluge of oblivion because 
they were admitted into the ark of the Canon ; and they were 
thus admitted only because they bore the names of apostles, 
and then only reluctantly. 

Now, the Jewish Christian churches represented the 
radical social wing of the primitive Church. They were 
leavened by the ancient democracy of the Hebrew prophets 
and of post-exilic Judaism. In popular Jewish thought the 
poor and the godly were simply identified, and there was a 
frequent and strident note of hostility to the upper classes. 
The Epistle of James shares this Jewish spirit. It is one of 
the most democratic books of the New Testament. "Let a 
brother in humble circumstances boast of his exalted rank, 
and a rich brother of his humble rank, for like the flower of 
the grass will he pass away. In the midst of his business will 
he wilt away." ! He describes indignantly how the rich man 
is ushered obsequiously into a front pew, while the poor man 
is sent into the gallery. That seems to him a reversal of God 's 
judgment, for the poor as a class have been chosen by God to 
be rich in the Christian faith and heirs of the coming kingdom, 
'James x.g-xz. 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY 99 

while the rich as a class are the oppressors of the Christians 
and the enemies of the name of Christ. 1 He pronounces an 
invective against the rich which would seem intolerably 
denunciatory in the mouth of a modern socialist preacher: 
"Here now, you rich men, weep and wail for the calamities 
coming upon you ! Your wealth is rotted and your garments 
are moth-eaten ! Your gold and silver have rusted, and their 
rust shall accuse you and eat into your flesh like fire. You 
have foolishly piled up wealth just before the world ends. 
Look now, the wages of the workingmen who have reaped 
your fields, which you have fraudulently retained, cry out 
against you and the outcries of the reapers have come to the 
ears of the Lord of Hosts. You have lived in luxury and 
wantonness on earth. You have fattened your hearts like 
cattle for a day of slaughter. You have condemned in the 
courts and done to death the just man who offers no resist- 
ance to you." 2 The significance of such a passage lies not 
in itself, but in the body of sentiment of which it is a mani- 
festation. 

The Apocalypse of John is part of the popular apocalyptic 
literature which flourished both among the Jews and the 
Jewish Christians, and the hope of a revolutionary overturn- 
ing is the essence of the apocalyptic hope, as we shall see 
later. 

The radical social spirit of the Jewish Christian churches 
can also be gauged in a measure by the sayings of Jesus. 
These sayings were kept alive and transmitted by word of 
mouth for years before any larger attempt was made to re- 
cord them in writing, and the Jewish churches furnished the 
collective memory which treasured and preserved them. It is 
1 James 2. 1-9. James 5. 1-6. 



IOO CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

safe to say that in the main only those portions of the teachings 
of Jesus which in some way were dear and congenial to these 
churches were thus preserved. If, therefore, the synoptic 
teachings of Jesus as we now have them are saturated witrx 
social thought, it is because such thought echoed the senti- 
ment of the Jewish Christian community. 1 In the preceding 
chapter I have declined to follow those scholars who ascribe 
much of the radical social teaching in Luke to Ebionitic, that 
is, to Jewish Christian influence. If it should be true that 
any part of that material is not due to Jesus, but to those 
who, in transmitting his thoughts, consciously or uncon- 
sciously infused something of their own social passion into 
them, Jesus would be relieved in part of the charge of radi- 
calism, but the Jewish Christian Church would be dyed with a 
deeper scarlet. We have an interesting example of such an 
editorial intensification of the social animus. The "Gospel 
according to the Hebrews" was a very ancient gospe], which 
originated and circulated in Jewish Christian circles. Only 
a few fragments of it are preserved. One of them tells the 
story of the rich young ruler in this form. 2 

"Said to him the other rich man, 'Master, what good 
thing must I do to live?' He said to him, 'Man, do the 
law and the prophets.' He replied, 'I have.' He said to 
him, 'Go, sell all thou possessest and distribute it to the 
poor and come follow me.' But the rich man began to 
scratch his head and it pleased him not. And the Lord said 
to him: 'How sayest thou, I have done the law and the 

1 This line of investigation is followed with great skill and effectiveness in 
Weizsaecker, " History of the Apostolic Age " 

* Hilgenfeld, "Novum Testamentum extra canonem," p 16; E. B 
Nicholson, " The Gospel according to the Hebrews," London, 1879. 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY IOI 

prophets ? For it is written in the law : thou shalt love thy 
neighbor as thyself ; and see, many of thy brothers, sons of 
Abraham, are covered with filth, dying of hunger, and thy 
house is full of much goods, and nothing at all comes out of it 
to them.' And turning he said to his disciple Simon, who 
sat by him, 'Simon, son of John, it is easier for a camel to 
enter through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter 
into the kingdom of heaven.' " 

The point of our argument is this. The Jewish Christian 
communities were numerically and spiritually an important 
part of eailiest Christianity. In many respects they most 
faithfully preserved the direct impress of Jesus, for they were 
the product of the same moral environment which had nur- 
tured his mind. But the main current of Christian life, which 
finally resulted in Catholic Christianity, followed other chan- 
nels and left Jewish Christianity like a land-locked bay, 
and of its literary products only a few remnants were pre- 
served. Consequently the social spirit which glowed in that 
part of the Christian Church is not adequately represented in 
early Christian literature as we now know it, and our general 
impression of the social impetus in primitive Christianity 
is to that extent weakened and imperfect. It is not at all 
unlikely that a similar fate befell other writings which shared 
the same qualities. 

Again, of those writings which did survive, only a limited 
number were embodied in the Canon of the New Testament, 
and only those that were embodied are known to the mass 
of Christian readers to-day. They have to form their 
judgment of the nature of original Christianity solely from 
their impressions of the New Testament. But an impression 
based only on that material is bound to be one-sided. If the 



102 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

gospels and the writings of one man were eliminated from 
our New Testament, the compass of what remains would be 
very slight. Paul immensely preponderates in the bulk of 
our material, and so we get the impression that his ideas and 
points of view were those generally prevailing in the apostolic 
age. That is probably far from true. In many respects Paul 
was a free lance, the propagandist of a new theology, a great 
dissenter and nonconformist, who was viewed with distrust 
or hostility by the representatives of an older theology and a 
more authoritative organization. He was a mind of immense 
stature and virility, but it was impossible that so intense a 
spirit should embody all sides of Christianity with equal 
vigor and in rounded harmony. Paul was a radical in the- 
ology, but a social conservative, a combination frequently 
met to-day. If we assume that in this respect he is an ex- 
ponent of the whole of primitive Christianity, we may be 
misled. Yet even Paul was not as apathetic toward social 
questions as is usually assumed. 

And finally the same caution with which we began our 
study of the social aims of Jesus applies to any study of the 
social contents of early Christianity. We have not been 
accustomed to read the records from this point of view. We 
have read them for spiritual devotion. We have studied 
them from the theological and ecclesiastical point of view. 
The records as they lie before us are incomplete and one- 
sided, and even what does bear on our purposes is overlaid 
for us by other interests, by preconceptions and long-standing 
habits of mind. We must stretch a sympathetic hand back 
to our brothers of the first and second century and see if they 
do not respond with the warm and mystic clasp that belong? 
to the order of social Christians of all times. Of course this 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY 103 

discussion will be one-sided too. There is no intention of 
presenting a rounded picture of the moral and religious life 
of primitive Christianity. We shall simply try to do justice 
to the force of the social impetus quivering in it. 

The hope of the immediate return of Christ dominated the The hope d 
life of primitive Christianity. Its missionary zeal, its moral 
energy, its theological conceptions and its outlook on the 
world, the interests it cherished and the interests it repudiated, 
can all be understood only under the high atmospheric press- 
ure of tLat expectation. This great culminating event was 
believed to be very near. Paul, too, believed that. It is often 
asserted that he modified his expectations as time went on. 
It would be strange if he did not, but there is no change 
traceable in his thought on this point sufficient to modify his 
conception of the historic mission of Christianity. The 
possibility that he personally might depart before the Lord 
returned, deepened into probability and then into certainty; 
but it was always a question of years and decades with Paul, 
and never of centuries. 

The return of the Lord meant the inauguration of the 
kingdom of God. What the prophets had foretold, what the 
people had longed for, and what John the Baptist had pro- 
claimed as close at hand, would come to pass when Jesus 
returned from heaven to reign. He had not achieved his 
real mission during his earthly life; the opposition of the 
rulers had frustrated that ; it had been God 's will so. But he 
was still the Messiah of Israel; the national salvation was 
bound to come; the kingdom would yet be restored to Israel, 
In a very short time he would descend from heaven and then 
all their hopes would be fulfilled in one glorious and divine 



104 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

act of consummation. Their preaching was with a view ta 
that event. They sought to do for his second coming what 
John the Baptist had sought to do for his first coming : to 
proclaim repentance to the people and to gather a holy rem- 
nant. The Christian hope of the Parousia was the Jewish 
hope of the Messianic kingdom, except that the person of 
the Messiah had gained wonderfully in concreteness and 
attractiveness, and the hope had become far more vivid and 
intense. The coming Messiah was the Master whom they 
knew and loved. He had ascended on high to receive the 
kingdom from his Father, and soon they would see him 
again, perhaps to-morrow or the day after. 

Ideas could well differ as to what the kingdom implied and 
the return of Christ would usher in. Some would place the 
emphasis on the spiritual blessings, others on the social justice 
and emancipation that would be involved in the perfect reign 
of God. It was an ideal, and a very capacious and elastic 
ideal. The early Christians were no more unanimous about 
their eschatology than the Jews had been, and than we are 
to-day. 

Paul expected an immediate spiritualization of the entire 
Cosmos. 1 The dead would be raised in a spiritual body ; the 
living would be transformed into the same kind of body; 
for flesh and blood in the nature of things could not share in 
that spiritual kingdom. Death would cease. Nature would 
be glorified, and the long travail of all creation would end 
when the children of God would be manifested in their 
glory. In Paul's programme of the future there is no room 

1 See especially i Connthians 15 and Romans 8. 18-25 For a summary 
of Paul's eschatology see Weiss, "Biblical Theology of the New Testament," 
Chap X. 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY 10$ 

for a millennium of happiness on this present earth. Only 
the dogmatic theory that all Scripture writers must hold the 
same views can wedge the millennium into Paul's scheme 
of the coming events. His outlook is almost devoid of 
social elements. To him the spirit was all. This material 
world could be saved only by ceasing to exist. 

But there were others to whom the life in the spirit was 
not so intense and experimental a reality as to Paul. They 
clung more lovingly to this old earth and to the human 
intercourse which made their happiness. The material world 
would, of course, end some day, but first there would be a 
really good life on earth. When Satan and his hosts were 
chained and imprisoned, and Christ and his saints reigned 
instead, then injustice and oppression would cease at last. 
Nature would be free from the stunting power of sin and the 
splendid fertility of paradise before the fall would return. 1 
Death would come late and gently. If any one had suffered 
death for the testimony of Jesus, that would not deprive him 
of his share in that happy time ; he would come to life and 
be invulnerable to death till the thousand years were over. 
At the end of that time there would be a last rallying of the 
powers of evil, a final spasm of judgment, and then this earth 
would pass away. 

This is the type of the Christian hope expressed in the 
Apocalypse of John The twentieth chapter describes this 
intermediate stage of salvation before the new heavens and 
the new earth appear in the twenty-first chapter. And even 

1 Sec the gorgeous imaginings of Papias, a man of the second generation 
of Christians, quoted by Irenaeus, " Heresies," Bk V, Chap 33 3-4 See 
" Ante-Nicene Fathers," I, 5562-563 Papias was so sure that this was part 
and parcel of Christianity that he claimed this as a saying of Jesus. 



106 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

that new earth is only a glorified old earth, with a shining 
city and ever bearing fruit trees and a crystal river and 
nations that pass in and out through its gates. 

The eschatology of the Apocalypse was the orthodox 
eschatology of primitive Christianity. Most of the writers 
of the post-apostolic age express or indorse it. It was opposed 
on principle by the Gnostic teachers and by some of the 
Greek Church fathers; for them salvation consisted in the 
emancipation of the spirit from the deadly prison-house of 
matter, and they could not admit a glorification of the ma- 
terial world in millennial splendor. Gradually as the years 
rolled on and the Lord failed to come, this hope grew fainter. 
Montanism in the second half of the second century sought 
to revive it by strenuous insistence on it, but only brought it 
into discredit. When the Empire accepted Christianity as 
the State religion, and the peace and power which, under the 
pressure of persecution, had seemed possible only through 
the direct intervention of God, had come in other ways, the 
millennial hope was practically abandoned by the leaders of 
the Church. They had their millennium. Eusebius pleased 
the courtiers of Constantine by suggesting that perhaps the 
marble and gold of the Church ordered by Constantine over 
the Saviour's tomb was the new Jerusalem. 1 The common 
people long clung to the millennial hope ; they were still dis- 
inherited and longed for their inheritance. 

Now, the millennial hope is the social hope of Christianity. 
TYieie are two peisona\\t\es to which religion holds out a hope 
of salvation: the little personality of man, and the great 
collective personality of mankind. To the individual, Chris- 
tianity offers victory over sin and death, and the consum- 

1 Eusebius, "Life of Constantine," Chap. 32. 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY IO? 

mation of all good in the life to come. To mankind it offers 
a perfect social life, victory over all the evil that wounds and 
mars human intercourse and satisfaction for the hunger and 
thirst after justice, equality, and love. One or the other of 
these two may be emphasized in the religious life of an in- 
dividual or a nation. Ancient Israel believed intensely in the 
divine consummation for the community; the hope of a 
future life for the individual had very little influence in 
Jewish religious life before the Exile On the other hand, 
in the Greek world of the first Christian centuries the longing 
for eternal life was exceedingly strong, and the hope for any 
collective salvation almost non-existent. In the synoptic 
teaching of Jesus all turns on the kingdom of God, and the 
life hereafter is rarely referred to, in the Gospel of John 
"eternal life" is the central word and the "kingdom of 
God" scarcely occurs. Many men to-day longed for heaven 
when they were young, and the idea of a salvation for society 
never occurred to them; now they are almost indifferent 
whether they personally will survive death or not ; but they 
would gladly give their life if it could help forward the sal- 
vation of society. A perfect religious hope must include 
both : eternal life for the individual, the kingdom of God for 
humanity. 

In early Christianity we see a gradual change of emphasis 
from the one hope to the other. From its Hebrew origin it 
btou^vt the soda! \vope-, iiom its Greek environment it 
accepted the intensification of the individual hope. The 
former waned as primitive Christianity disappeared; the 
latter waxed as Catholic Christianity developed. Each hope 
was deeply and organically connected with all the other 
features of worship and church life characteristic of primitive 



108 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

Christianity on the one hand and Catholic Christianity on 
the other But m so far as Christianity retained the first 
impact coming from Jesus and the Baptist and the prophet? 
of Israel, its hope was predominantly the social hope. 

The revoiu The millennium was the early Christian Utopia. It oc- 
char^icr cupied the same place in the imagination and hope of the 
of the mil- f irs ( generations of Christians v\ huh the cooperative common- 
hope, wealth occupies in the fancies of modern socialists. The 
"woes" which always preceded the inauguration of the golden 
age corresponded to that forcible clash of the contending 
interests which is expected as inevitable in the coming tran- 
sition of po\\cr from the possessing classes to the proletariat 
It is true, all hope was put in the intervention of God and 
none at all in economic development or the forcible or politi- 
cal action of Christians But their hope was a revolutionary 
hope, even though the revolutionists were as passive as sheep 
led to the slaughter and as meek as their Master. They 
hoped for a change complete and thorough; for an over- 
turning swift and catastrophic ; for an absolute transition of 
power from those v\ho now rule to those who now suffer and 
are oppressed What else is a revolution ? 

The entire complexion of this hope had been inherited 
from Judaism. The general framework of the successive 
eras, the woes, the angelic hosts, the mystic arithmetic of 
sevens and tens, were common to Jewish and Christian 
apocalypticism With slight changes Christians could adapt 
and Christianize Jewish apocalyptic writings, and they did so. 1 
One most important point in which the Jewish attitude was 

1 See Shailer Mathews, "The Messianic Hope in the New Testament", 
Schiirer, "The Jewish People m the Time of Jesus Christ," 29 and 32, V. 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY ICQ 

copied by some Christians was the hostility to Rome. The 
oppressed and tortured spirit of post-exilic Judaism had turned 
in fierce hatred against the nations that oppressed Israel. 
Rome was the last and most lenible of them all. They were 
all but agents of great demon powers who hated Israel and 
thwarted its God. When the hurricane of God's judgment 
should come at last, it \\ould mean deliverance to Israel, but 
necessarily it would mean also vengeance and overthrow for 
Rome. 

This attitude toward the dominant political power was 
readily imported into Christian tli ought with the apocalyptic 
literature which embodied it. Jews ^\ho became Christians 
could hardly help retaining that philosophy of contemporary 
history. Was not Rome built up by the aid of its gods? 
And what were its gods but the demons whom Christ was to 
overthrow and strip of their power ^ As ^urely as the true 
God was in irreconcilable conflict with the demon powers of 
idolatry, so surely \\ould there have to be a death-struggle 
with the Empire before the kingdom of Christ could be set 
up. In the Apocalypse of John, before the shout of the 
multitude could proclaim the final "Hallelujah ! for the Lord 
our God the Omnipotent reigncth !" the other shout had to 
go up, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great !" 1 

In the Middle Ages the whisper began to go abroad that 
the scarlet woman that rides on the beast, the great city 
seated on the seven hills, \vas papal Rome. That interpre- 
tation has been so useful in the long battle of Protestantism 
with Romanism that it has acquired a kind of canonical 
authority, so that to many readers of the Bible it seems a 
self-evident matter that the Apocalypse prophesies the anti* 

1 Apoc 19 6 and 18 2. 



110 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

Christian power of papal Rome. But neither the writer not 
the early readers of the book had the faintest conception of 
the papacy or its far-off corruption. Not even the tiniest 
germ of that institution was in existence when the book was 
written. To any contemporary reader the great city en- 
throned on the seven hills, ruling over all nations, the luxurious 
market for all the merchants of silver and pearls and purple 
and silk and scarlet, could mean only one thing : the capital 
of the Empire. Her fall and rum meant the overthrow of the 
Empire. 1 But surely the shout of triumph hailing that event 
was not expressive either of political indifference nor political 
loyalty. 

Not all Christians shared this attitude of hostility to the 
State. Paul certainly did not regard the Empire as Satanic 
in character, but as a divine instrument of order and justice, 2 
a power holding the anti-Christian malignity in check. 3 But 
Paul wrote his commendation of Roman justice during the 
early and happy years of Nero's reign, when that gifted and 
impressionable mind was still under the influence of Seneca. 
Up to that time the persecution of the Christians had all 
proceeded from the hatred of the Jews, and the strong arm 
of the Roman government had often served to protect the 
Christians from the influential malice of the Jews. On the 
other hand, the Apocalypse was written when the iron hand 
of Rome had turned against the Christians as such under Nero 
and perhaps under Domitian. 4 All the world had listened 
aghast to the news of the burning of great Rome. But to 
the Christian communities the most significant fact was the 
death-moan of their brethren that followed. The glare of 

1 Apoc 17-19 2 Romans 13 1-7. 8 2 Thessalomans 2. 1-12 

4 Under Nero A.D. 64; under Domitian A.D. 95 or 96. 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY III 

burning Rome and the blood of the Christian martyrs com- 
bine in the lurid colors of the seventeenth and eighteenth chap- 
ters of the Apocalypse. The prayer for vengeance against 
Rome was the answer in some Christian minds to the begin- 
nings of persecution by Rome. It was not Christian, but it 
was very human. 1 

The hope of Christ's return dominated the thoughts of 
primitive Christianity. Christ's return was the inauguration 
of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God was the hope 
of social perfection. The reign of Christ involved the over- 
throw of the present world-powers. Thus the millennial 
hope was necessarily a political hope and in antagonism to 
the existing political situation. As soon as the Roman Em- 
pire took an attitude of active hostility toward the followers 
of Christ, some at least of them took an attitude of passive 
hostility toward the Empire. This was neither wise nor 
Christian, but in estimating the social impetus of primitive 
Christianity we cannot overlook these revolutionary tenden- 
cies. If the broadening current of the Christian movement 
had such sucking whirlpools on one of its edges, it helps us 
to estimate the swiftness and force of the entire stream. 

The apocalyptic hope expressed a tremendous sense of Thepoliti 
political destiny. All the world was to be made over and 
the Christians placed in the centre of things. The reins of 
power were to be torn from the hands of the mighty and 
given to the followers of Jesus. The history of the world 

1 There are historical scholars who are so impressed by the latent hostility 
of the Christians to Rome that they incline to think some of them may have 
been guilty of setting Rome on fire, as was charged at the time. Cf . Tacitus, 
"Aimales,"XV, 44. 



112 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

converged upon them. They had this proud conscious* 
ness of an exalted future, not because of their own worth, 
but because they believed in the worth of Jesus Christ 
and hoped to be lifted to power with him as his faithful 
adherents. 

At the core this hope was sound, but we cannot help feel- 
ing that the form of the hope was largely visionary. It cer- 
tainly did not come true. As we pointed out in an earlier 
chapter, 1 the apocalyptic hope was a debased form of the 
prophetic hope, developed at a time when the Jewish people 
were without political power or experience. The whole 
scheme of the future in the apocalyptic literature is artificial, 
unreal, unhistorical, and mechanical. Jesus turned away 
from it and emphasized the law of organic development, 2 but 
his followers did not generally rise to that higher view. 

Yet we do find in early Christianity a different type of 
thought which had the same high sense of an historical mis- 
sion, but which combined it with a saner and more philo- 
sophical outlook on the world. 3 It was evolutionary, while 
apocalypticism was catastrophic. 

For those who believed in Christ his coming marked the 
fundamental epoch in human history. All that had gone 
before was but preparation. In Paul's philosophy it was a 
basal thought that Christ was the second Adam, the source 
and starting-point of a new and spiritual humanity, the origi- 
nator of a new type of man. 4 The Christian Gnostics, who 
were the Christian evolutionary philosophers of that age, 

1 PP- 34-36 2 PP 59-60 

1 In the following sections I am greatly indebted to Harnack, " Expansion 
of Christianity," Bk II, Chap VI 

4 i Corinthians 15. 44-49, Romans 5 12-21. 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY 113 

went even farther and made the revelation of Christ the 
central cosmic event. 1 

And it was not simply a new kind of individual that was 
being produced within the sphere of Christ's influence, but a 
new people, a novel social unity. "You are a chosen race, a 
kingly priesthood, a consecrated nation, God's own people" 
four terms in which organic solidarity is expressed with 
reiterated emphasis. 2 In their churches Christians had a 
visible demonstration of the fact that the old social unities 
were being broken up to build a new unity. The old dividing 
lines of Jew and Gentile, of civilized Greek and raw bar- 
barian, of slave and freeman, of man and woman, were 
fading out ; the only line that was left to their vision was the 
line that separated Christians from the rest of the world, and 
all who were in Christ were one new being. 8 

This new race had a great past and a greater future. Reach- 
ing backward it claimed all the venerable history of Israel for 
its own. The patriarchs and prophets, the types, the promises, 
the whole Scriptures, were not Jewish, but Christian. The 
Christians were the real Israel. By one daring act of ex- 
propriation the Jewish people were thrust out of their historic 
heritage and the Christian Church sat within the tents of 
Shem. Christianity was the original religion restored and 
completed. It was as old as mankind. By this appropria- 
tion of Hebrew history the Christians, looking backward, 
gained a profound sense of historic dignity and importance. 
They also gained a sense of being a corporate social body, a 
political entity. Looking forward, this new people realized 

1 See, for instance, Wmdelband, "History of Philosophy," ix. 
* I Peter 2. g ytvot, lepdrevfia, Ww, Xo6s. 
Galatians3 26-28, Colossians 3 5-11. 

I 



114 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

that it was the people of destiny. As surely as Christ was 
destined to reign, so surely were the Christians the coming 
people. They were not only to be superior to the others, 
but to absorb all others. 

When Christianity came on the stage of history, there were 
two distinct types in possession, the Gentiles and the Jews, 
with a deep and permanent cleavage between the two. Chris- 
tianity added a third genus, and Christians were profoundly 
convinced that they were to assimilate and transform all 
others into a higher unity. The Epistle to the Ephesians is 
a tract reflecting on this aspect of the mission of Christ. 
Romans 9-11 is a philosophy of history, forecasting the 
method by which this process of absorption and solidifica- 
tion was to come about. There is a prophetic grandeur of 
vision in this large international outlook of the early Chris- 
tians. The evolution of religion has always been intimately 
connected with the evolution of social organization. When 
tribes were amalgamated into a nation, tribal religions passed 
into a national religion. 1 In the Roman Empire nations were 
now being fused into a still larger social unity. The old 
national religions were incapable of serving as the spiritual 
support for this vaster social body. There was a crying need 
for an international and purely human religion. Christianity, 
as we now know, was destined to fulfil this function, and 
these early Christian thinkers had a prophetic premonition 
of this destiny. They often dwelt on the fact that Christianity 
had been born simultaneously with the Empire under Augus- 
tus. 2 The universal State and the universal religion were 

1 See Menzies, " History of Religion," Chap VI 

8 Luke 2. i ; Mehto, quoted in Eusebius, " Church History," IV, 26, 
7-n 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY 115 

twins by birth. They ought, therefore, to be in helpful rela- 
tions to each other in accordance with the manifest purpose 
of God. The Empire should cease to persecute the Church. 
The Church could be the best ally of the State in creating 
civil peace, because Christians had the highest morality, and 
because they alone had power over the demons who menaced 
the security of the Empire. 1 As the soul holds the body 
together, so Christians hold the world together. 2 They exert 
a conservative and unifying influence. This conception of 
Christianity as a penetrating, renewing, and unifying power, 
destined to control the future of the world, was just as full 
of triumphant hopefulness as the apocalyptic hope, but 
allowed of a quiet process of historic growth It did not 
regard the existing State as Satanic and evil, yet had full 
room for moral criticism of existing conditions and the deter- 
mination to contribute to a thorough moral change. 

The apocalyptic hope was probably the dominant Chris- 
tian conception of history in the very first generations. This 
other view gained power as time passed, as the number and 
influence of Christians increased, and as men of larger mental 
reach and higher education grew up in the Church. The 
fact that religious convictions are the living force in these 
theories must not blind us to the fact that they contain a 
consciousness of social solidarity, of social power, and of 
a social mission. This satisfaction for the dawning sense of a 
vaster human unity probably lent greater force than we now 
imagine to the missionary appeal of Christians among the 
lower and middle classes. 

To-day we have a similar process of international amalga- 
mation very similar to that of the early Christian centuries. 

1 Justin, " Apology, " I, Chap. 12. * " Epistle to Diognetus," Chap. VI 



Il6 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

At that time a new and common civilization was growing up 
around the Mediterranean Sea ; to-day it is growing up around 
all the oceans. It is significant that the prophets of the 
modern social movement are also the prophets of a new 
internationalism, which aims to supplant the narrow patri- 
otisms and interests of a by-gone stage of human develop- 
ment by the wider enthusiasms and outlooks of a vaster human 
brotherhood. There is a profound similarity between the 
consciousness and the aims of early Christianity and of 
modern social thought, wherever it has ethical and religious 
impetus in it. 

ilie society- All that has been said so far bears intimately on the social 
contents of early Christianity, but it deals with its ideas and 



primitive theories rather than its actual social achievements. But 
la l y primitive Christianity was not in the least academic. Its 
distinctive quality was the passionate moral energy with 
which it pressed for action. Jesus had put a new spirit into 
his followers. That spirit spread with a noble contagion and 
sought expression and realization in a new society. The old 
social life was stubbornly hostile to it at some points and un- 
responsive at others. Therefore a new social life had to be 
created to be the fit environment for the new spirit. Hence, 
wherever Christianity came, we see a new society nucleating. 
To create a new type of social organization is always a 
feat of strength. The higher the ideas and aspirations are 
which the organization embodies, the greater is the force 
needed to create and maintain the organization. Water 
seeks its level; so does man. It is not hard for a swimmer 
to keep his face above water ; it is very hard to lift his shoul- 
ders above the water. The Christians at Corinth were Corin- 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY II 7 

thians before they were Christians. Their memories and 
habits, their imaginations and appetites, were in league with 
the common life about them. They lived in the same houses 
and workshops and baths with their fellows. Yet Chris- 
tianity called on them to cut loose from their social environ- 
ment and to rise to an ethical standard which they had 
neither recognized in theory nor practised in life. It bade 
them cease from that sexual indulgence which the Greeks 
regarded as a simple, pleasurable satisfaction of a natural 
appetite. It called for unselfishness and honesty in money 
affairs, and Greeks were not famous for either. It demanded 
peaceableness and gentleness of intercourse, whereas the 
Greek took to factious debating as a duck to the water. 

The results achieved were by no means ideal. But the 
religious power of the new faith did succeed in gathering 
these people into organizations where such moral teachings 
were urged with immense determination, and where the irre- 
sistible force of public opinion exerted its disciplinary power 
on all who manifestly contradicted in their living the ideals 
accepted in their faith. The first generation of Christian 
teachers had to make a strenuous fight against the grosser 
forms of sexual evil within the churches. In the following 
generations we hear less about them in exhortations addressed 
to Christians and more in writings addressed to the general 
public. Probably the moral standard had been effectively 
raised within the Christian community, and these outstand- 
ing vices had been practically left behind, much as intoxica- 
tion and profanity in the American churches. A body of 
seasoned Christians had grown up under life-long Christian 
influences, and their combined influence was more steady 
and powerful than the occasional warnings of the early 



Il8 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

apostles. 1 To curb the strongest and therefore the most 
destructive physical desire ; to put an edge on conscience in 
regard to honesty and generosity in the use of property; to 
soften the hateful and factious spirit by a lovable gentleness 
even a slight success in these directions would be an in- 
valuable contribution to social life. But to draw men out of 
their social environment into an organization expressly dedi- 
cated to the achievement of this high moral standard, is a 
wonderful testimony to the society-making power of the new 
religion. 

Most social organizations follow natural lines of cleavage. 
Blood kinship, tribal sympathies, neighborhood, financial 
profit, social protection or advancement these are some 
of the forces that bind men together. Christianity cut across 
these natural and conventional lines. It tore down the exist- 
ing barriers with irresistible force and brought men together 
by a new principle of stratification. Jews were wrenched 
loose from the firm hold of their race and religion ; Greeks 
from their culture and pleasures; and both joined on a 
footing of equality. Spiritual affinity triumphed over the 
strongest bonds that hold men together. The call of Jesus 
to give up home and property, reputation and life, for his 
sake, was treasured in the collection of his sayings because 
it corresponded to the actual experience of so many of his 
followers. The society-making force can be measured by 
the obstacles it had to overcome. 

It was the Christian policy to minimize the contact with 
the unhallowed life outside. It was this withdrawal which 
evoked so much hatred and resentment and brought on the 
Christians, as on the Jews, the charge of an odium generis 

1 Dobschiitz, " Christian Life in the Primitive Church/ 1 pp. 186-187. 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY 119 

humani, a general hatred for human kind. But within the 
charmed circle of the Christian name the love was all the 
more intense. Its strength was novel, inexplicable, and 
awakened sinister suspicions in outsiders. But it was not 
common crime, as the heathen suspected, but the common 
experience of the highest spiritual and ideal good which un- 
fettered such new powers of human fellowship. Faith in a 
common Father made men brothers. When men had vowed 
allegiance to the same Master, had felt the inward compul- 
sion of the same divine Spirit, and looked forward intently to 
the same great consummation in the return of Christ, all the 
old distinctions were puerile and outworn, and they locked 
hands as Christian brothers. The natural desire for social 
intelligence and intercourse, the inborn craving of man for 
man, was spiritualized, ennobled, and intensified by being 
put on such a basis. The fact that such a society was possi- 
ble at all is splendid testimony to the good in man. The 
strength of its cohesion is prophetic of what human society 
may come to be when its higher dormant faculties are called 
into action. 

The churches of the first generation were not churches in 
our sense of the word. They were not communities for the 
performance of a common worship, so much as communities 
with a common life They were social communities with a 
religious basis. A common religious experience and hope 
brought them together, but the community of life extended 
to far more than that. They prayed together, but they also 
ate together. They had no church buildings, but met in the 
homes of their members. That in itself was an influence 
against ecclesiasticism and for social intimacy. They had a 
rudimentary organization, as every human society is sure to 



120 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

have, but they had no official clergy distinct from the laity, 
They were democratic organizations of plain people. Be- 
cause they were separated from all other society, they had to 
find nearly all their social relations, pleasures, and interests 
within the Christian community. How far did this sharing 
of all life extend? 

The church at Jerusalem will occur to every one as the 
classical illustration of a larger sharing of life. "All who 
became Christians were together and held all they had for 
the common use. They sold their property and goods, and 
shared the proceeds according to their individual needs." 
They met for worship in the temple, and met for their meals 
in their homes. The outflow of this close fellowship was a 
simple-hearted gladness, so that they could praise God and 
win the good-will of men. 1 

It is amusing to note how our popular expositors treat 
this Christian communism to-day. They approach it with 
a sort of deprecatory admiration. It is so useful for proving 
how noble and loving Christianity was, but it is so awkward 
if anybody should draw the conclusion that we to-day ought 
to share our property. They make much of the fact that we 
have no other instance of communism among the other 
churches of the New Testament, and that even at Jerusalem 
the mother of Mark still had a house of her own to live in. 
They seem more anxious to emphasize that it did not occur 
twice than to show that it did occur once. But many an 
ecclesiastical body would be happy if it had as much Scrip- 
ture to quote for its favorite church practices, and would 
treat with scorn any suggestion that after all it had "occurred 

>Acts 2. 43-47, 4. 32-5. n. 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY 121 

only once." As a result of this anxiety, it is commonly as- 
serted that the later poverty of the church at Jerusalem was 
due to its communism. The assertion has been made so 
often that it is accepted almost as self-evident. Yet there is 
not the slightest statement in the Bible connecting the two 
things ; it is pure inference. Luke, who is our sole source of 
information, has not a breath of disapproval. To him it is 
evidently a beautiful fact, a wonderful demonstration of the 
power of the Holy Spirit in the Church. It is hard to escape 
the feeling that the bias of Luke and of modern Christians 
is somewhat divergent. 

At the outset the disciples at Jerusalem simply continued 
the life they had lived with the Master. They went on doing 
as they had done with him. They had had a common purse. 
He had cared for the wants of his family like a father, and 
they acknowledged that they had never been in want while 
under him. 1 They were now away from their old homes 
and occupations in Galilee. So they continued a family life 
among themselves and shared what they had. 

As their number increased, the problem of providing for 
the common meals and for the poor and sick became diffi- 
cult. Those who were better off, in the glow of brotherly 
love and religious self-sacrifice, and probably in the expecta- 
tion of the speedy return of Christ, replenished the common 
purse by larger offerings. In a few memorable cases they 
even parted with real estate for this purpose. It is worthy 
of note that Luke was able to mention only a single instance 
of such generosity by name, and that was by a man of re- 
markable largeness of heart, Barnabas. 2 All evidence indi- 
cates that Luke was not an eye-witness of this early life at 
1 Luke 22. 35. * Acts 4. 3^-37- 



122 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

Jerusalem. The purpose of his book was not to furnish an 
impartial and critical account of the beginnings of Chris- 
tianity, but to give an edifying sketch of the wonderful prog- 
ress of the gospel from Jerusalem to Rome. His tone is that 
of a modern pastor giving a centenary history of his church, 
or of a missionary describing the progress of Christianity in 
a Karen tribe. Writing at such a distance and for such a 
purpose it is very natural and right that he should dip his 
brush in the liquid gold of enthusiasm and say, "Not one 
of them claimed anything of his possessions as his own, but 
all things were common to them." Yet the fraternal fervor 
must have been strong, for even Ananias and Sapphira felt 
that they had to make at least a show of complete renun- 
ciation to measure up to the standard set by the Christian 
community. 

But whatever the extent of this generosity may have been, 
it was always generosity, and not communism in any proper 
sense of the word. No one was required to turn his property 
into the common fund on admission, as in all communistic 
colonies. And above all there was no common economic pro- 
duction. In fact, there seems to be no trace of communistic 
production in ancient Christian literature. The rudimentary 
communism of primitive tribal life was gone and forgotten. 
The possibility of a higher communistic ownership of the in- 
struments of production had not yet risen above the horizon of 
common thought. Individual and family production was the 
only kind commonly known. Thus these first Christians pro- 
duced separately and consumed in common. It was religious 
and instinctive fraternity, but not communism in any strict 
sense. Wherever people meet closely on a footing of equality, 
sharing is inevitable. In the family we always hold most 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY 123 

of our possessions for common use. Students in dormitory, 
soldiers on the march, sportsmen in camp, share freely It is 
impossible to have a man sit by you as your brother and let 
him go hungry while you feed. Therefore as a usual thing we 
do not let him sit by us or we deny that he is our brother. 
But whenever calamity or joy sweeps away the artificial 
barriers, men at once begin to share. Religion had the same 
effect in Jerusalem, and often since. 

The later poverty at Jerusalem may have been due in part 
to this generosity. If a man turned in his farm to be eaten 
up, he raised the standard of living of all for a while, but 
his private capital was gone without creating any capital for 
common production. On the other hand, the continued 
poverty may well have been due to other causes: to the 
general poverty of the lower classes in Palestine; to persecu- 
tion and economic unsettlement; to the emigration of well- 
to-do and conspicuous members; to the separation of the 
Galilean Christians from their accustomed sources of earn- 
ing; or to the amount of time devoted to religion and with- 
drawn from labor. It is at least hasty to charge a permanent 
situation to a single cause. 

Thus the church at Jerusalem was not quite as communistic 
as is usually supposed. On the other hand, the other churches 
were not as completely devoid of communistic features as is 
commonly assumed. 

The disciples at Jerusalem had met in their homes and had The primi- 
eaten in common. The one act which might be called an churches as 
act of distinctively Christian ritual at the beginning, the re- fraternal, 
minder of the Lord's last meal with the disciples, was per- ties 
formed in connection with these common meals, and this 



124 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

insured the homeliness and simplicity of the rite. These 
common meals were so essential a part of the earliest church 
life that this custom was established wherever Christianity 
came. This in itself is a strong proof that the churches were 
more than organizations for worship. We know from Paul's 
letter to the Corinthians 1 that the Christians met in the 
evening, the time for the chief meal of the day, and dined 
together. Such common meals were frequent in the Greek 
fraternal associations, and Greeks could easily fall in with 
the custom. These love-feasts did not consist of eating a 
wafer as a religious symbol, as is done in some modern 
churches; it was a downright meal to which people came 
hungry, so that Paul advised them to get a bite at home to 
take the edge off their appetites, if they were too hungry to 
wait for one another. 

Now the assurance of one square meal means a great deal 
to a poor man physically. It means still more to his con- 
sciousness of human worth and his enjoyment of human 
intercourse to sit at a social function as the equal of all. To 
break bread in common brings men close to one another. 
At Corinth the social differences had obtruded themselves at 
the common meals. The well-to-do had drifted together in a 
coterie, had clubbed their well-filled baskets, and were in 
danger of getting hilarious together," while the poor brother 
sat on one side hungry and outside the pale of social enjoy- 
ment. Paul took this very seriously. It seemed to him a 
denial of the fundamental spirit of the churches. 

These common meals persisted for centuries, though 
changed in character. The ritual act of the " Lord's Supper" 
became more ceremonial, mysterious, and awe-inspiring, and 

1 1 Corinthians n. 17-34- 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY 12$ 

a meal where people were heartily satisfying their physical 
hunger did not seem the fit environment for the mystery of 
the eucharist. Hence that part was transferred to the morn- 
ing service. But the evening meal continued. As wealthy 
men entered the churches, they often defrayed the expenses 
of a meal and made it an act of charity to the poor. The 
rich paid and the poor ate. That was a complete departure 
from the democracy of the common meal at the beginning. 
But the persistence of the custom, even when all the condi- 
tions had so completely changed, proves how deeply it was 
embedded in the traditions coming down from the origin of 
Christianity. 

The provisions for the common meal were brought by each 
family, as in our basket picnics. When the Lord's Supper 
was transferred to the Sunday morning service, it still re- 
mained customary for the people to bring provisions along, 
and the material for the eucharist was taken from these offer- 
ings. What was left was distributed to all who were in need. 
As time went on, regular monthly offerings of money were 
introduced and under the ascetic enthusiasm of almsgiving, 
large properties were often turned over to the churches. It 
is significant that for a long time the churches did not accu- 
mulate property. If real estate was given, it was sold and 
the proceeds used up. If there was any special need, a col- 
lection had to be taken to meet it. In the Greek fraternal 
associations the accumulation of income-bearing property 
was essential. The later Church, too, derived its chief income 
from landed wealth. The primitive Church on principle was 
without property. 1 

Moreover, the income of the Church was wholly for those 

'Sohm, " Kirchenrecht," I, 71. 



126 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

in need. In modern church life the bulk of the income 
goes for the support of the clergy and the expenses of worship, 
and even of the expenses for benevolence only a small frac- 
tion is for charitable help of the needy. In the primitive 
Church the officers were not paid, unless they temporarily 
went without earnings to serve the Church. In that case 
they were supported because they were needy, and not be- 
cause they were officers. As the Church was ecclesiasticized 
and clericalized, an increasing clergy was needed to do what 
the people at first had done for themselves. The clergy be- 
came a separate and priestly class, for whom secular employ- 
ment was not fitting, and who had to be maintained. An 
ever increasing proportion of the income of the Church was 
devoted to the clergy and the expenses of the ritual. In the 
fifth century it was regarded as a fitting division that one- 
fourth go to the bishop, one-fourth to the clergy, one-fourth 
for the maintenance of worship, and only one-fourth to 
the poor. Yet in theory the property of the Church long 
remained "the patrimony of the poor." This, too, was a 
survival of earlier traditions. 

It is possible to get a very fair estimate of a man's char- 
acter from the allotment of his expenditures. The same is 
true of a Church. If its income is largely devoted to appli- 
ances of aesthetic beauty, we may be sure that its heart is in 
its ritual. If the primitive chuiches could do with little in- 
come spontaneously offered, we may be sure that they were 
democratic bodies in which the people themselves did the 
work. If the income was wholly devoted to the help of the 
needy, we may be sure that fraternal helpfulness was essen- 
tial to their church life. 

This line of argument is confirmed by the history of the 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY 127 

organization of the primitive churches. 1 We are apt to trans- 
fer our own conditions back to the first century and to assume 
that the elders and bishops, like the modern pastor, existed 
primarily for teaching and preaching. But religious utter- 
ance was the common right of all Christians. Whoever had 
the spiritual gift for it, could exercise it. It was not a duty 
attached to a church office. The officers of the primitive 
churches were executive and administrative officers, and not 
preachers. If they could also teach, it was simply an added 
advantage in their personal influence. The terms "bishop," 
"elder," "deacon," have to us a solemn and ecclesiastical 
significance. In the first century they were secular terms, 
taken from common life. "Episcopos" was equivalent to 
our superintendent or manager. The churches adopted the 
forms of organization to which their members were accus- 
tomed in their voluntary clubs and societies and in their 
village or city government, just as Americans in organizing 
any new society would instinctively organize with a presi- 
dent, secretary, treasurer, and executive committee, because 
that is the form of organization which we have always known. 
To get the atmosphere of the first century, we must strip 
these terms of their ecclesiastical and clerical significance and 
make them business terms. 

These officers presided at the common meetings, and to that 
extent they were religious officers. They watched over the 
moral condition of the members and guided the discipline 
of the church, which was a very important part of its life, 
and to that extent they were moral officers. And they ad- 
ministered the finances and organized the fraternal care of 

'See Hatch, "Organization of the Early Christian Churches," pp 



128 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

the churches. The latter was probably the original function 
of the bishops in so far as they differed from the other elders. 
The bishop rose to power in the church not by virtue of his 
teaching, but because he managed the funds and controlled 
the extensive executive apparatus of the church. The man 
who held the purse-strings finally ruled the churck It was 
only toward the close of the second century that the bishops 
added the control of the teaching functions to their other 
growing powers. 

It is the outcome of the close investigation which has been 
given to this subject in recent years that the framework of 
organization in the primitive churches was devised, not for 
the conduct of worship, nor for teaching and preaching, but 
for the administration of the common life. The first 
step in organization was the appointment of the Seven at 
Jerusalem, and they were appointed to administer the fra- 
ternal help of the church with greater fairness. 1 It has 
usually been assumed that these Seven were the first 
"deacons." It now seems more probable that the dea- 
cons were a later contrivance for the purpose of render- 
ing subsidiary assistance to the bishops, and that the Seven 
were the first elders. 2 In that case the original purpose of 
the presbyterate was not teaching, but organized helpful- 
ness. The bishops of the early centuries were first of all 
great executive officers. They became teachers and theo- 
logians when doctrine and theology became so essential a 
part of church life. 

If these results of modern historical investigation are to 

1 Acts 6. 1-6. 

1 Acts ii 27-30, we find "elders" at Jerusalem doing the very thing the 
Seven were elected to do. 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY 129 

any extent correct, they furnish a powerful proof of the fact 
that in the early Christian communities the administration of 
mutual helpfulness was a very important part of their exist- 
ence, and that their common life must have extended far 
beyond their common religious worship. 

If we inquire in what directions this fraternal helpfulness 
manifested itself, our information is far richer about the third 
century than about the first and second. 1 By that time the 
organization of the churches had been centralized and per- 
fected, and the charitable help was administered through this 
machinery. In the first century the methods were crude and 
more spontaneous, but the spirit of it was probably purer than 
later, more democratic and less debased by the desire to win 
merit by ascetic almsgiving. 

From the outset widows and orphans were extensively cared 
for. The social conditions of the ancient world and the 
impulses inherited from Judaism laid this duty upon the 
churches. About AD. 250, the church at Rome had fif- 
teen hundred dependents of that kind under its care. 
When Christians were in prison for their faith or exiled to 
the mines, the churches cared for their needs and comfort, 
often in lavish degree. It was not uncommon to ransom 
Christians imprisoned for debt. The proper burial of the 
dead was even more important to the sentiments of the 
ancient world than to ours. Just as to-day, the poorer classes 
organized in societies which guaranteed their members an 
honorable burial. The churches performed this service for 
their members. In public calamities, like pestilence or the 
invasion of nomadic brigands, they stood by their members 

1 See Uhlhorn, "History of Christian Charity in the Ancient Church"; 
Harnack, "Expansion of Christianity," Bk. II, Chap. Ill 

K 



130 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

and sent aid to a distance. 1 The duty of working was strictly 
urged in the primitive Church; holy idleness was the out- 
growth of later asceticism. But if a man was out of work, 
the churches assumed the responsibility either of finding him 
a job or of caring for him. 2 Thus the means of life were 
guaranteed him in either case. The church at Rome, living 
in the midst of vast pauperism, could boast that it had no 
beggar in its membership. The troubles coming upon them 
for their faith made Christians even more migratory than the 
rest of the city population of that day. But wherever they 
went, they were sure of Christian hospitality and the first aid 
needed to get a foothold in a strange place. Hospitality was 
one of the fundamental Christian virtues in primitive Chris- 
tian life. 3 It was so open-handed that it invited exploitation 
by professional beggars. The heathen writer Lucian made 
the gullibility of the Christians part of the plot of his novelette, 
"On the Death of Peregrinus Proteus." 

By the end of the third century charity began to be in- 
stitutionalized. There were Christian lodging-houses for 
strangers, homes for the aged, the sick, the poor. In the first 
and second century it was more a matter of direct neighborly 
help from man to man. Probably the chief help was not 
given in the form of money, but of human service and 

1 See the account of the pestilence in Alexandria, AD 259, m Eusebius, 
"Church History," VII, 22 Also Cyprian's letter to the Numidian bishops, 
forwarding a gift of 100,000 sestertia from the church at Carthage to re- 
deem the captives of brigands. "Ante-Nicene Fathers," V, 355 

2 Harnack quotes from the " Pseudo-Clementine Homilies" (Ep Clem 8), 
the fine maxim rexvlr-g tpyov, dSpavet IXeor, "to the workman a job, 
to the man unable to work pity," ^ e alms 

8 Clement of Rome (about A D 96) always couples faith and hospitality 
in characterizing the Old Testament saints. I Clement, X-XII, "Ante 
Nicene Fathers," I, 7-8. 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY 13! 

influence. In Paul's epistles we get glimpses of influential 
families in whose homes the church-groups met and upon 
whom the task of hospitality and watch-care chiefly devolved. 
They put their property, their influence and social standing, 
at the service of the Christian community. Paul speaks of 
such with deep respect. Stephanas, who came from Corinth 
to visit Paul at Ephesus, was a man of that kind. 1 He prob- 
ably made this journey on behalf of the Church at his own 
expense, just as men of wealth would undertake to defray 
some public function at Athens, or paid for common expenses 
in the voluntary associations of Greek social life. The poor 
and the alien were without political rights or social impor- 
tance, and found protection by close relation to some citizen 
of wealth and standing. The relation of client and patron 
was widespread and of great social importance. It is in- 
teresting that where our conditions are similar to those of the 
ancient world, a similar relation of clientage has grown up 
in the protection given to the poor by the political boss and 
the service exacted by him in return. It is probable that the 
wealthier members of the Christian communities served as 
the patroni of their poorer brethren. Phoebe, of the Corin- 
thian harbor-town Cenchreae, was probably not a poor 
deaconess, but a woman of social standing who had served 
Paul and many others as patrona 2 

Christianity spread at first chiefly in the cities and among 
the lower middle class, the working class, and the slaves. 
The poorer classes of the Empire were a proletariat much 
like that of our great cities. They were largely composed of 

1 1 Corinthians 16. 15-18 

2 The word irpforaTu used by Paul, Romans 16 i-?, is the feminine of 
)!, the Greek equivalent of patronus 



132 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

slaves and of freemen who were economically submerged 
through the competition of organized slave labor, through 
the drift of the peasantry toward the cities, and through the 
increasing economic breakdown of the Empire. The Chris- 
tian Church was of immense social value to these people. 
It took the place in their life which life insurance, sick bene- 
fits, accident insurance, friendly societies, and some features 
of trades-unions take to-day. The individual found in the 
community a hold when any wave of misfortune threatened 
to sweep him off his feet and drag him out to sea in the un- 
dertow of misery. It is now generally recognized that this 
element of mutual help was quite as strong a factor in the 
growth of the Christian movement as the attractiveness of the 
truth it presented. Harnack justly makes "The Gospel of 
Love and Charity" one of the chief chapters in his account 
of the missionary expansion during the first three centuries. 1 
The historian Schiller in his history of the imperial age of 
Rome says: "As the gospel of the poor and oppressed, of 
the despairing and guilty, Christianity naturally sought its 
adherents first in the lower strata of population, and if we 
remember what moral degradation prevailed in the Greek 
seaports, we realize the more the power of the new faith, 
which was able to awaken a higher and somewhat more ideal 
conception of life even amid such surroundings. The funda- 
mental idea of Christianity . . . could unfold but slowly, and 
only a few of the nobler spirits could rise to such lofty con- 
ceptions. With the majority of believers the determining 
motives were the socialist elements on the one hand and the 
Messianic hope and the expectation of a better life beyond on 

1 Harnack, "The Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries," 
Bk. II, Chap III. 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY 133 

the other hand." l Karl Kautsky, in his history of socialism, 
thinks the practical aid was a stronger element than the hope 
of the golden age. "Like the Social Democracy to-day, primi- 
tive Christianity grew to a power irresistible by the ruling 
classes of that day because it became indispensable to the 
masses of the population." Speaking of the decay of com- 
munistic enthusiasm in the Church after Constantine, he 
says "But even in this weakened form Christianity for cen- 
tur.us accomplished great things in counteracting pauperism. 
Though it did not abolish poverty, it was the most effective 
organization for alleviating the misery growing out of the 
general poverty within its reach. And that was perhaps 
the strongest lever which lifted it to success." 2 

The history of Christian charity has been a favorite part The leaven 
of popular church history. It is delightful to think of heathen democracy! 
men coming under the influence of Jesus and the Christian 
Church and developing such tenderness of affection and such 
ardor of self-sacrifice amidst "a world without love." But 
Christianity was not simply the culture of the faculty of love. 
It brought with it a strong leaven of democracy and protest 
which unsettled men. It created social unrest and carried 
disturbance in its train. 

Shortly after Paul left the little church at Thessalonica 
he got word that some of the Christians there had quit work- 
ing. They seem to have been unusually poor. Consequently 
the hope of the Lord's coming had taken powerful hold on 
them and they expected it immediately. 8 But if relief was 

1 Hermann Schiller, " Geschichte der romischen Kaiserzeit," I, 461-462, 

2 Karl Kautsky, "Die Vorlauf er des neueren Sozialismus," pp. 23 and 32. 
* 2 Thessalonians 2 1-12 



134 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

coming so soon, why go on breaking their backs? It is all 
very well for men in comfortable arm-chairs to write about 
the dignity of labor, but those who have had nothing but 
labor in their life have an instinctive hankering for the dignity 
of leisure. Grinding social pressure and tense millennial 
expectations have again and again in the history of Chris- 
tianity caused crowds to drop their work and wait for the 
Lord, who would be their emancipator from drudgery. Paul 
very wisely explained to them that the Lord's coming was 
not quite as near as they supposed, and that in any case "he 
that will not work, shall not eat." l 

At Corinth the social unrest seized the women. They felt 
the hot promptings of the Spirit in their souls just like the 
men, and rose to prophesy. They, too, felt their intellectual 
life enriched with new thoughts and a wider outlook; why 
should they not have the right to teach in the Church ? They 
felt the emancipating sense of equality and the glad sweep of 
the new brotherhood in the meeting and put off the veil, 
which the lustfulness of men and long-standing social in- 
feriority had compelled women to wear when in presence of 
strangers. Paul in one of his bold, prophetic strains asserted 
that in Christ all the old distinctions of race and social stand- 
ing would disappear, including the difference between man 
and woman. The spirit of Christianity has accomplished 
that result in the slow progress of centuries, and our women 
are now free and our equals. If these Corinthian women tried 
to take at once that heritage of liberty which was to be theirs 
eventually, we cannot help sympathizing with them. But 
we can also understand the unusual vexation and distress in 
Paul's mind when he heard of this disorder, and agree with 

1 2 Thessalonians 3 6-15. 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY 135 

his prudence in bidding them keep within the bounds of 
customary modesty and restraint. 1 

The social unsettlement even reached family relations and 
created a religious tendency to divorce. There were Chris- 
tians who felt that it was impossible for them to live a Chris- 
tian life while married to a heathen. The question whether 
it was not the right or even the duty of a Christian to sever 
so incompatible a relation had become so pressing at Corinth 
that it was one of the chief subjects on which the Church 
consulted Paul by letter and committee. There were others 
with whom the new passion for sexual purity had awakened 
scruples even about the relations within wedlock, and who 
were ready to assert the right of the individual to himself on 
high religious grounds. Here, too, we have the anticipation 
of later results of Christian influences : a keener feeling that 
marriage should rest on spiritual affinity and sympathy and 
not on physical or conventional grounds, and a finer sense of 
the right of the soul to its own body. Of course it is ex- 
ceedingly likely, as human nature goes, that in some cases 
old dislikes and aversions were simply seeking cover under 
these new religious pleas. But in any case it must have been 
a leaven of unrest in various families. 2 

We catch a glimpse, too, of a new stirring among the Chris- 
tian slaves. In discussing the question whether Christians 
ought to sever marriages with heathen, Paul sets up the general 
principle that a Christian can be a Christian in any outward 
set of circumstances, and that he ought to remain in that con- 
dition in which the call of God found him. In that connec- 
tion he turns to address the slaves : "Were you a slave when 
you were called ? Do not let that trouble you. Nay, even 

1 i Corinthians n. 2-16, 14 33-36 2 1 Corinthians 7. 



136 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

if you have the chance to gain your freedom, prefer to re 
main as you are. For he that was called to be a Christian 
while a slave, is henceforth a freed-man of the Lord; like- 
wise he that was called in freedom, is henceforth the slave 
of Christ." * Evidently there were Christian slaves who were 
troubled by their servile status. They were dependent on 
the permission of their masters for the right to be Christians 
at all. They were liable to be commanded to perform im- 
moral or idolatrous acts, and they had no legal right to re- 
fuse. But Paul's argument indicates that the cause of un- 
rest lay even deeper, in a newly awakened sense of dignity 
and human worth. How could a soul belonging to Christ 
still bend to the yoke of man ? Paul says it can be done ; the 
Christian slave is spiritually free in Christ and that ought to 
content him. Let him wear the badge of slavery with that 
inward sense of emancipation. There are other passages in 
the New Testament touching on the relations of Christian 
slaves to their masters. In heathen literature the com- 
monest vice of slaves was stealing. The most serious danger 
of Christian slaves apparently was the independence and ag- 
gressiveness begotten of a new sense of equality and worth. 
Especially if their masters were also their brethren in Christ, 
the moral problem thereby created was not always satis- 
factorily solved. 2 

We have already touched on the views taken by Christians 
about the Roman Empire. These theoretical views were sure 
to manifest themselves at least occasionally in practical con- 
duct. Christians were citizens of a higher kingdom. The 
Empire was not their highest good. It was soon to come 

1 1 Con'nthians 7. 17-24. 

*See Ephesians 6. 5-9; i Peter 2. 18-25; i Timothy 6. 1-2. 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY 13? 

to naught by God's hand. Its laws were not to them the 
supreme laws, nor in any sense identical with the moral law. 
They were often placed in a position where it was their reli- 
gious duty to disobey the commands of the public officers. 
Even Paul, who takes so respectful an attitude toward the 
moral value of government, had no real use for the State so 
far as Christians were concerned. He did not think of try- 
ing to bring Christian influences to bear on the State; but 
neither did he want any influence of the State in the affairs 
of Christians. If brethren had trouble between them, they 
were not to begin litigation before the courts of the Empire, 
but to settle by the arbitration of other brethren. 1 Chris- 
tians withdrew from the surrounding heathen life and 
minimized all contact with it. This involved that they had 
to reproduce and parallel the necessary institutions of society 
within their own community. The churches legislated for 
their members and exercised judicial functions, enforcing 
them with various grades of disciplinary punishments. In 
heathen life the religious and civil organizations were one; 
the officers of the State as such performed the public religious 
acts. Through the hostile relation of the Christian Church 
and the heathen State, which continued for nearly three cen- 
turies, the Church developed a permanent organization of its 
own, which controlled and directed the life of its members 
with a pressure often more insistent and searching than that 
of the State. The Church was, in fact, a State within the State. 
The ecclesiastical courts and the canon law of later times 
were an outgrowth of this situation. It was the realization 
of this which finally roused the Empire to active hostility 
against the Church. There were only two persecutions in 

*i Corinthians 6. i-n. 



138 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

which the Empire took the initiative and exerted its vast 
strength to destroy the Church, the one beginning A.D. 250 
and the other A.D. 303, each lasting about ten years. Each 
of these was directed, not against the belief of Christians, 
but against this all-pervading, tenacious organization which 
paralleled and rivalled the organization of the Empire and 
seemed to threaten its sovereignty. 

With such an inward emancipation from the ordinary 
patriotism and enthusiasm for the Empire; with such a 
parallel organization to absorb the obedience and devotion 
of Christians ; and under the painful pressure of unjust per- 
secutions and frequent chicanery, it would be strange if 
practical revolutionary sentiments had never sprouted within 
the fenced acreage of the Church. It is true, in all docu- 
ments intended for the general public, especially in the 
writings of the apologists, there are emphatic assurances of 
the harmlessness and patient obedience of Christians. These 
writings had the very practical purpose of lightning rods to 
draw off the electricity that might gather in high places and 
be discharged in sudden strokes of persecuting anger. Doubt- 
less all that the apologists said was true. Doubtless Chris- 
tians did pray for the emperor. So do the persecuted sec- 
tarians in Russia or the Christian Armenians in Turkey ; but 
perchance the cloth of their sentiments shows a different 
pattern and color on the lower side. The repeated injunc- 
tions in the New Testament to give honor to the emperor 
and to pay taxes wherever they were due, may indicate that 
these duties were not self-evident to all. Paul clearly goes 
out of his way in his letter to the church at Rome to urge 
respect for the government and willing payment of taxes. 1 
1 Romans 13. 1-7. 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY 139 

The psychological motive for that passage must have been 
cither to conciliate the good-will of influential men at the 
capital into whose hands the letter might fall, or the knowl- 
edge and fear that contrary sentiments existed either at 
Rome or in other places with which Paul was acquainted. 
Chribtians who were brought before Roman officials did not 
always manifest the ideal meekness with which we are apt to 
invest their memory; they displayed their human nature by 
taunts and prophecies of disaster. During the Decian per- 
secution, when the vacant seat of the Roman bishop was 
once more filled, an eminent Christian leader boasted that 
the emperor would rather have heard of a rival em- 
peror being proclaimed than of a bishop being seated at 
Rome. The tone of pugnacity and antagonism is unmis- 
takable. 1 

Thus the spirit of primitive Christianity did not spread 
only sweet peace and tender charity, but the leaven of social 
unrest. It caused some to throw down their tools and quit 
work. It stirred women to break down the restraints of 
custom and modesty. It invaded the intimacies of domestic 
relations and threatened families with disruption. It awakened 
the slaves to a sense of worth and a longing for freedom which 
made slavery doubly irksome and strained their relations to 
their masters. It disturbed the patriotism and loyalty of 
citizens for their country, and intervened between the sover- 
eign State and its subjects. 

All this is neither strange nor reprehensible. No great 
historic revolution has ever worked its way without break- 
ing and splintering the old to make way for the new. New 
wine is sure to ferment and burst the old wineskins. More- 

1 Cyprian. Epistle 51, 9, "Ante-Nicene Fathers," V f 329. 



140 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

over, it is likely to taste sour and yeasty, and some will say; 
"The old is better." Jesus foresaw that the Christian move- 
ment would work incidental harm and pain. He had come 
to cast a fire upon the earth. He had not come to bring 
peace but the sword. Families would be riven in twain and 
set in antagonism, two against three. But he was willing to 
pay the cost of the kingdom of God in tears and blood if 
need be. Our argument here is simply this, that Christianity 
must have had a strong social impetus to evoke such stirrings 
of social unrest and discontent. It was not purely religious, 
but also a democratic and social movement. Or, to state it 
far more truly it was so strongly and truly religious that it 
was of necessity democratic and social also. 

The out- In spite of the defectiveness and one-sidedness of the his- 
come ' torical sources furnishing the material for our study, we have 
found an abundant and throbbing social life in primitive 
Christianity. 

All of its theories involved a bold condemnation of existing 
society. Whether that society was to be overthrown by a 
divine catastrophe of judgment or displaced and absorbed in 
the higher life of the Christian community, in any case it was 
to go. The future of society belonged to that new life 
originated by Christ. Christianity was conscious of a far- 
reaching and thorough political and social mission. This is 
the more remarkable because it was weak in numbers, ap- 
parently withdrawn from the larger life of society, and with- 
out any present or any apparent future influence on the 
organized life of the civilized world. Such convictions, cher- 
ished in the face of such odds, argue that it was launched 
with a powerful and invincible social impetus, and that the 



SOCIAL IMPETUS OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY 141 

consciousness of a regenerating mission for social life is 
inseparable from the highest form of religion. 

The strength of its social tendencies was not exhausted by 
its hopes for the future. It immediately began to build a 
society within which the new ideals of moral and social life 
were to be realized at once, so far as the limitations of an 
evil environment permitted. The primitive Christian churches 
were not ecclesiastical organizations so much as fraternal 
communities. They withdrew their members from the social 
life outside and organized a complete social life within their 
circle. Their common meals expressed and created social 
solidarity. Their organization at first was executive and 
was devised to meet social and moral, rather than religious 
and doctrinal, needs. Their income was completely devoted 
to fraternal help. As organizations for mutual help and fra- 
ternal cooperation the Christian churches became indispen- 
sable to the city population and invincible by the government. 

This fraternal helpfulness was more than mere religious 
kindliness. It was animated by the consciousness of a 
creative social mission and accompanied by a spirit of social 
unrest which proves the existence of powerful currents of 
democratic feeling. Under the first impact of its ideas and 
spirit, men and women tried to realize at once those social 
changes which have actually been accomplished in centuries 
of development. This impulse proves that a reconstructive 
social dynamic inheres in Christianity and must find an out- 
let in some form, slow or swift. 

We were prepared to find a long drop downward when we 
passed from Jesus to the thoughts and doings of his followers. 
We did find it so. In their religious life not even the greatest 
maintained his level, and the lowest groped in a density of 



142 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

superstition and puerile legalism which makes it seem queel 
to put the great name of Jesus upon them. And yet the 
higher impulse was implanted. Give it timel Humanity 
is an organism that passes through a long series of meta- 
morphoses, and it measures its seasons by centuries. The 
purification of the religious life, the comprehension of the 
real meaning and spirit of Christ, have made marvellous 
progress in recent times. 

In the social direction of the religious spirit we found a 
like decline. There is not the same unerring penetration of 
judgment on social morality, not the same eagle-eyed boldness 
of hope and faith for the future, not the same sweet reasonable- 
ness about the slow methods of realizing the ultimate goal, 
not the same lovable love nor the same power to heal and 
save the broken and diseased members of the social body. 
There is a good deal of crude thinking, of sectarian narrow- 
ness and pride, of ecclesiastical ambition, of complete for- 
getfulness of the high mission to the world. And yet there 
is the germ of a new social life for humanity, the conception 
of a social morality based on love and world-wide in its 
obligation. Give it time ! This, too, under ever changing 
forms, may work its way, and triumph yet. The modern 
emancipation of the intellectual life began in the Renaissance 
of the fifteenth century and is not finished yet. The modern 
emancipation of the religious life began in the Reformation 
of the sixteenth century and is not finished yet. The modern 
emancipation of the political life began in the Puritan Revo- 
lution of the seventeenth century and is not finished yet. The 
modern emancipation of the industrial life began in the 
nineteenth century and is not finished yet. Let us have pa- 
tience. Let us have hope. And above all let us have faith, 



CHAPTER IV 

WHY HAS CHRISTIANITY NEVER UNDERTAKEN THE WORK 
OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION? 

IN the preceding chapters we have studied the origins of 
Christianity. It rested historically on the religion of the 
Hebrew prophets, and the great aim of the prophets was to 
constitute the social and political life of their nation in ac- 
cordance with the will of God. The fundamental purpose of 
Jesus was the establishment of the kingdom of God, which 
involved a thorough regeneration and reconstitution of social 
life. Primitive Christianity cherished an ardent hope of a 
radically new era, and within its limits sought to realize a 
social life on a new moral basis. 

Thus Christianity as an historical movement was launched 
with all the purpose and hope, all the impetus and power, 
of a great revolutionary movement, pledged to change the 
world-as-it-is into the world- as-it-ought-to-be. 

The organization in which this movement was embodied, 
after three centuries of obscurity and oppression, rose trium- 
phant to be the dominant power of the civilized world. 
Christian churches were scattered broadcast over the Roman 
Empire. Their numbers were so great and their organiza- 
tion so flexible and tenacious that the final attempts of the 
Empire to uproot the Church proved futile and the Empire 
capitulated and made terms. Christianity supplanted hea- 
thenism as the State religion of the Empire. Its churches were 
endowed with the ancient properties and rights of the temples. 



144 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

Its clergy were given immunity from the taxes and exactions 
which crushed all other classes. Its members filled the civil 
service. Its great bishops had the ear of the men in power. 
The population of the ancient world entered the Church en 
masse, and though the great majority may have had little 
experience of the inner power of the new faith, yet the people 
lay open to the instruction and guidance of the Church. The 
bishops came to be the leaders of the local nobility which 
controlled the municipal life of the Roman cities. In the 
East the great Justinian formally placed the administration 
of public charity and the supervision of the public officials 
under the bishops. 

When the machinery of imperial administration broke down 
in the provinces under the invasion of the barbarians in the 
fifth century, the machinery of the Church remained un- 
broken. The provincial cities rose like islands of the old 
Roman civilization amid the flood of barbarian life that 
covered the provinces, and in the cities the bishops were the 
leaders, the protectors of the poor, and the organizers of the 
forces of law and order. Amid the general disorder and in- 
security the Church offered the stable points and thereby 
gathered power to itself. Ancient families became extinct 
and the Church became the heir of their lands and slaves 
and serfs. Small proprietors sought security by committing 
their lands to the Church and becoming its tenants. The 
landed wealth of the Church alone sufficed to make it a power 
of the highest rank in the feudal system of the Middle Ages, 
in which all power finally rested on the possession of the land. 
Bishops and abbots became feudal dignitaries, sometimes 
almost sovereign princes in their own domains, and always 
with a potent voice in the government of their nations. The 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 145 

pope became a sovereign over a large part of Italy, and his 
material power and spiritual influence were so vast that he 
could wrestle on even terms for supremacy with the emperors. 
The Church was the preserver of the remnants of intellectual 
culture, the sole schoolmistress of the raw peoples. Her 
clergy long had almost a monopoly of education, and were 
the secretaries of the nobles, the chancellors and prime 
ministers of kings. The Church had its own law code and 
its own courts of law which were supreme over the clergy, 
and had large rights of jurisdiction e/en over the laity, so 
that it could develop and give effect to its own ideas of law 
and right. Throughout the Middle Ages the sway of the 
Church over the moral and spiritual life of the people, her 
power to inspire and direct their enthusiasms and energies, 
her chance for moulding their conceptions of life, were amazing 
and unparalleled by any other force. 

In modern life the relation between Church and State has 
grown looser, the reverence for the Church has sensibly 
waned, and other intellectual and spiritual forces have risen 
by her side and successfully claimed part of the field which 
she formerly held alone. But the potential efficiency of the 
Church in affecting public opinion and custom is still almost 
incalculable, even in the least religious countries of Europe. 
In our own country, if the Church directed its full available 
force against any social wrong, there is probably nothing that 
could stand up against it. 

Here, then, is a vast force which by all the tradition of its 
origin and by its very essence is committed to the moral re- 
construction of human society. It has had time and oppor- 
tunity. Why, then, has it not reconstituted the social life of 
Christendom? 



146 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

Two answers may be given to this question, each the 
opposite of the other. 

It may be replied that in spite of the spread and power of 
the Church any actual reconstruction was impossible. Chris- 
tianity was rising when the ancient world was breaking down. 
By the time the Church had gained sufficient power to 
exercise a controlling influence, the process of social decay, 
like the breakdown of a physical organism in a wasting 
disease, was beyond remedy. The unsolved social questions 
of pagan centuries had created a despotic government, a 
venal and rapacious bureaucracy, a vicious and parasitic aris- 
tocracy of wealth, and a vast mass of nerveless and hopeless 
hereditary paupers. The impact of the Teutonic barbarians 
merely crumpled up an organization that was hollow within. 
What power could save a State that was rotten to the core ? 
A similar huge task confronted it in working on the raw clay 
of that new human material which covered the ancient 
civilization like a landslide in the great migration of nations. 
Amid the general anarchy, against the coarse vice and bru- 
tality of the barbarians, herself harried by the rapacity of 
the nobles and weakened by the ignorance and barbarism 
of her own clergy, the Church did what she could, but a 
thorough social reconstruction was impossible. In modern 
life her power is broken by the prevalent doubt and apostasy, 
and the current of materialism and mammonism is now too 
great to be stemmed. 

Such a statement of the case deserves a more sympathetic 
consideration than it is likely to get from either friend or foe 
of the Church. Impetuous Christians are apt to see only the 
duty that has been left undone, and not the difficulties which 
beset the stout hearts of the past. Those who are no friends 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 147 

of the Church often have no realizing experience themselves 
what a task it is to counteract even a single, deep-rooted moral 
evil or to quicken a single group of human beings to a nobler 
life. Whoever thinks that Christianity ought to have ac- 
complished more than it did, confesses great faith in its 
potency. I have that faith. I feel so deeply the inexhaust- 
ible powers of renewal pulsating in it, that its very achieve- 
ments only make me ask : Why has it never done what it was 
sent to do ? 

Others again will return the opposite reply. If we ask why 
Christianity has not reconstituted society, they will say it has 
done so. Has it not lifted woman to equality and com- 
panionship with man, secured the sanctity and stability of 
marriage, changed parental despotism to parental service, 
and eliminated unnatural vice, the abandonment of children, 
blood revenge, and the robbery of the shipwrecked from the 
customs of Christian nations ? Has it not abolished slavery, 
mitigated war, covered all lands with a network of charities 
to uplift the poor and the fallen, fostered the institutions of 
education, aided the progress of civil liberty and social 
justice, and diffused a softening tenderness throughout 
human life? 1 

It has done all that, and vastly more. The influence of 
Christianity in taming selfishness and stimulating the sym- 
pathetic affections, in creating a resolute sense of duty, a 
stanch love of liberty and independence, an irrepressible 
hunger for justice and a belief in the rights of the poor, has 
been so subtle and penetrating that no one can possibly trace 
its effects. We might as well try to count up the effect in our 
organism of all the oxygen we have inhaled since our first 

1 For a fine, popular statement of these changes see Brace, " Gesta Christi." 



148 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

gasp for breath. In so far as humanity has yet been re* 
deemed, Christianity has been its redemption. Many of us 
have made test of that regenerating power in our personal 
lives. Many, too, have marked the palpable difference in 
the taste of life between some social circle really affected by 
Christian kindliness and a similar circle untouched by Chris- 
tian motives and affections. What is true within such small 
spheres of social life has been true in the large area of West- 
ern civilization. And yet human society has not been 
reconstituted in accordance with the principles of Jesus 
Christ. 

In the first place, it is necessary to remind ourselves that 
Christian writers who describe the influence of Christianity 
on human life are always tempted to emphasize the con- 
trast between heathenism and Christian society by select- 
ing the darkest aspects of the former and the brightest sides 
of the latter. 1 The witticisms of heathen satirists and the 
sombre invectives of Christian moralists are quoted to char- 
acterize heathen life. But if some socialist historian of the 
twenty-fifth century should ransack the files of our comic 
papers and of our " muck-raking " magazines, what an ap- 
palling, unrelieved, and unfair picture he would get of society 
under our individualistic regime ! On the other hand, in de- 
scribing Christian society we are apt to assume that Chris- 
tian theory was identical with Christian practice; that the 
declamations of some ancient Christian rhetorician were 
sober scientific estimates; and that the highly moral edicts 
of Christian emperors were enforced better than the highly 

1 This holds true not only of Brace, "Gesta Christi," but of such solid 
and admirable works as Doellmger, " Gentile and Jew," and Uhlhorn's " Con- 
flict of Christianity with Heathenism" and his "History of Christian Charity." 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 149 

moral laws of Kansas or New York. We are apt, also, to 
forget that the moral force of Christianity was usually only 
one factor in producing such a change as the abolition of 
slavery or piracy, and that over against the benign influ- 
ences of the Church must be set the malign and divisive 
influences which she created by persecuting zeal, intellectual 
intolerance, or religious wars. In short, we must soberly 
face the fact that a good many deductions have to be made 
from the popular panegyrics, and that the Church has not 
accomplished all that is often claimed for her. 

In the next place, the social effects which are usually 
enumerated do not constitute a reconstruction of society on a 
Christian basis, but were mainly a suppression of some of the 
most glaring evils in the social system of the time. For 
instance, amid the incessant feuds of the Middle Ages the 
Church for a short time and within a limited area succeeded 
in imposing the Truce of God and so giving the harassed 
people a chance to breathe. In our own time it has aided 
in mitigating the suffering entailed by war through the Red 
Cross conventions and otherwise. But it has never yet turned 
more than a fragment of its moral force against war as such. 
The Church is rendering some service to-day in opposing 
child labor and the sweat-shop system, which are among 
the culminating atrocities of the wages system, but its con- 
science has not at all awakened to the wrongfulness of the 
wages system as a whole, on which our industry rests. Thus, 
in general, the Church has often rendered valuable aid by 
joining the advanced public conscience of any period in 
its protest against some single intolerable evil, but it has 
accepted as inevitable the general social system under which 
the world was living at the time, and has not undertaken 



150 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

any thoroughgoing social reconstruction in accordance with 
Christian principles. 

In the third place, the most important effects of Christianity 
went out from it without the intention of the Church, or even 
against its will. For instance, the position of woman has 
doubtless been elevated through the influence of Christianity, 
but by its indirect and diffused influences rather than by any 
direct championship of the organized Church. It is probably 
fair to say that most of the great Churches through their 
teaching and organization have exerted a conservative and 
retarding influence on the rise of woman to equality with man. 
Similarly Christianity has been one of the most powerful 
causes of democracy, but the conscious influence of the 
Church has more widely been exerted against democracy than 
for it. A volatile spirit has always gone out from organized 
Christianity and aroused men to love freedom and justice 
and their fellow-men. It is this diffused spirit of Christianity 
rather than the conscious purpose of organized Christianity 
which has been the chief moral force in social changes. It 
has often taken its finest form in heretics and free-thinkers, 
and in non-Christian movements. The Church has often 
been indifferent or hostile to the effects which it had itself 
produced. The mother has refused to acknowledge her own 
children. It is only when social movements have receded 
into past history so that they can be viewed in the larger 
perspective and without the irritation created by all con- 
temporary disturbance of established conditions, that the 
Church with pride turns around to claim that it was she who 
abolished slavery, aroused the people to liberty, and emanci- 
pated woman. 

The facts of history are so dear on this point that the 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION IS\ 

indirectness of the social influence of Christianity has been 
set up as a kind of doctrine. We are told that Christianity 
is sure r to affect society,, but that Christianity must not seek 
to affect it. The mission of the Church is to implant the 
divine life in the souls of men, and from these regenerated 
individuals forces of righteousness will silently radiate, and 
evil customs and institutions will melt away without any 
propaganda. 

That is Certainly one of the most important means of social 
transformation. Put a new moral standard and a new moral 
motive into a human heart, and it will unconsciously affect all 
it touches. A Christian woman will make a home sweet and 
Christian, even if she has no theory about Christianizing the 
home-life. But would it not be more effective still if she 
added the conscious purpose to make her home a little king- 
dom of God, and intelligently set herself to counteract all 
customs and outside influences that expressed the selfishness 
and ostentation and gluttony of the life surrounding her home ? 
If a result gives us joy and pride after it is attained, wtr~ 
should it not be our conscious object before it is attained? 
Why should the instinctive and unpurposed action of Christian 
men be more effective than a deeply rooted and intelligent 
purpose? Since when is a curved and circuitous line the 
shortest distance between two points ? Will the liquor traffic 
disappear if we say nothing about it ? Will the atrocities on 
the Congo cease if we merely radiate goodness from our 
regenerate souls? 

We suspect that this theory was devised to put the best face 
on an uncomfortable fact. It is a fact that there has been a 
startling absence of any thorough and far-seeing determina- 
tion or effort to transform and Christianize the social life of 



152 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

humanity, But that lack has not been due to the wise sett 
restraint of the Church, which knew a better way, but to a 
series of historical causes which have paralyzed its recon- 
structive purpose and power. These causes I shall try to set 
forth in this chapter and it can then be judged whether the 
past failure of the Church to undertake the reconstruction 
of social life justifies a present refusal to undertake it con- 
sciously. 

This brief survey will have to run back and forth over 
nineteen centuries of Christian history. Its brevity will 
have to excuse the abruptness and the lack of due qualifica- 
tions in many of the statements. 

It is correctly asserted that the apostles undertook no social 
socmlro- propaganda. Pau l held no antislavery meetings, and Peter 



aganda m made no public protest against the organized grafting in the 
tunes. Roman system of tax-farming. Of course they did not. 
Even the most ardent Christian socialist of our day would 
have stepped softly if he had been in their place. The right 
of public agitation was very limited in the Roman Empire. 
Any attempt to arouse the people against the oppression of the 
government or the special privileges of the possessing classes, 
would have been choked off with relentless promptness. If, 
for instance, any one had been known to sow discontent among 
the vast and ever threatening slave population, which was 
not negro, but white, he would have had short shrift. 
Society was tensely alert against any possible slave rising. If 
a slave killed his master, the law provided that every slave of 
that household should be killed, even if there was no trace of 
complicity. Upper-class philosophers might permit them- 
selves very noble and liberal sentiments only because there 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 153 

was no connection between them and the masses, and their 
sentiments ended in perfumed smoke. 

Under such circumstances any prudent man will husband 
his chances of life and usefulness, and drop the seeds of truth 
warily. If the convictions of William Lloyd Garrison had 
burned in Paul, we should probably not know that Paul had 
ever existed. There is no parallel between such a situation 
and our own in a country where we are ourselves the citizen- 
kings, and v/here the right of moral agitation is almost un- 
limited. The parallel would have to be sought with American 
missionaries working among the Armenians in Turkey, or 
with evangelical sectarians in Russia before the present revo- 
lution. Our missionaries in China are in a privileged position, 
yet they have to let official corruption alone or their consuls 
are likely to hear from the mandarins. 

Paul was not an anti-slavery man. He doubtless realized Postpone- 
the oppressive conditions of many slaves, just as we recognize 
the hard lot of miners or oyster-dredgers. But to his lofty n g- 
idealism outward conditions were almost indifferent. He him- 
self bore poverty and homelessness almost with equanimity for 
Christ's sake. Let the slave realize that he is Christ's free- 
man, and he can hold his head as erect as any. 1 This is 
sublime, but it is too rare an atmosphere for the mass of men, 
and even the few can maintain such victorious elevation of 
soul only under the tension of unusual feelings and only for a 
limited time. 

Paul and the entire primitive Church were under such 
tension. They expected the very speedy coming of the 
Lord. Paul expected that this event would signalize the 
l i Corinthians 7. 17-24. 



154 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

transformation and spiritualization of all the material worid, 1 
and what did our transient earthly troubles matter in the 
face of so tremendous a change ? Others, as we have seen, 2 
expected the coming of the Lord to usher in an earthly mil- 
lennium of justice and happiness, which would solve all 
social questions in one blessed catastrophe. They were then 
in the same position as those revolutionary socialists who 
refuse to dabble with social palliatives because the people 
are almost on the point of seizing control of all. We know 
now that the Christians of the first century were at the be- 
ginning of Christian history; they thought they were at the 
end. 

This expectation, to any one who took it seriously, affected 
all relations and outlooks on life. Paul even advised against 
marriage on account of the nearness of the end and the 
upheavals sure to precede it. He counselled an attitude of 
inner detachment. Let those who had wives be as if they 
had none, and those who purchased property as if they did not 
own it ; let those who had dealings with the world make them 
as slight as possible ; for the time was short, and the present 
make-up of the world was soon to pass away. 8 Given that 
conviction of the coming end, and this was the language of an 
heroic soul. Any one with that faith would be morally ab- 
solved from entering on any moral crusade that would take 
time. But without that honest faith the same attitude would 
be a shirking of responsibility. If a man spends only a 
single night in a shack in the woods, he does not mind if the 
stars shine through the roof or the rain leaks in, for in the 
morning he will strike camp. But if he occupies a house 

1 1 Corinthians 15; Romans 8. * i Corinthians 7. 25-35. 

1 p. 103 if. 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 155 

for years in which roof and drainage are defective, and if his 
children are perpetually sick in consequence, it is criminal 
for him to let things run on because some day it may happen 
that he will move. 

In the preceding chapter we discussed the attitude of Hostility cc 
primitive Christianity to the Empire and the civilization J^its^"* 
organized in it. 1 We saw that the hope of the Lord's coming civilization 
necc ^arily involved the hope that the Empire and its social 
life would come to an end. The feelings inherited from 
Judaism and its apocalyptic literature, and the feelings 
generated by the persecution of the Christians, united in 
creating a clouded atmosphere of fear and distrust through 
which imperial Rome loomed threatening and detestable. 

This feeling received a strong moral reenforcement by the 
awakened Christian conscience which felt keenly the immo- 
rality of heathen society, the lasciviousness of its pleasures, 
the unnaturalness of its ornaments and luxuries, the greed of 
its traffic, the factiousness and hatred prevalent in private and 
public life. How could the ideals of life which they carried in 
their hearts be realized in a world so incompatible with them ? 
How could a social life so fundamentally wrong be recon- 
structed? Men usually undertake a hopeful reformatory 
activity only if betterment is somewhere within sight. In 
some of our cities in which local politics seemed bad beyond 
remedy, citizens were long in a state of pessimistic lethargy. 
Socialists are so profoundly convinced of the hopeless and 
fundamental injustice of the capitalistic system that they will 
cooperate in no reform which is simply to ameliorate or pro- 
long a system that ought to cease. Similarly the political and 

J p. io8ff. 



156 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

moral outlook of Christians on the world about them was sfc 
dark and hopeless that the idea of a moral campaign could 
hardly have occurred to them, even if it had been permitted, 
and even if their hope of God's intervention had not made 
their efforts seem useless. 

This moral outlook received a sinister reenforcement 
by the religious belief prevailing in early Christianity that 
the heathen world was under the control of demon pow- 
ers. 1 

This was the common belief of the heathen world itself. 
Only the word "demon" did not have the exclusively evil 
significance which it has with us. Their demons were good, 
bad, or indifferent. The common man believed himself 
surrounded by them just as the mediaeval Christian felt 
himself protected by ministering angels and saints, or 
tempted by devils. For their favor the Roman merchant 
offered gifts and prayers. Against their anger or spite the 
Greek sailor wore his amulets. From their defilements men 
sought cleansing in the ritual of the heathen "mysteries" 
and the prevalent Oriental cults. For the educated man, 
with whom the conception of one God had shouldered aside 
the belief in the ancient gods, it was convenient to think that 
the traditional gods were real spiritual powers, though of an 
inferior rank. 

The Christians simply retained this common belief of the 
second century, but by a process which has often been re- 
peated in the history of religion this many-hued world of 
spirits was suddenly all dyed in uniform black. They were 

l Harnack, "Expansion of Christianity," Bk II, Chap II, has an 
Excursus about this belief and its influence on ancient Christianity. 
of the most interesting passages in the Fathers are quoted there. 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 157 

parts of that Satanic kingdom which opposes God and his 
kingdom. They were not figments of the imagination, but 
real and terrible seducing spirits who had for ages enthralled 
the world and persuaded men to offer them gifts and sacrifices. 
Whatever was good in pre-Christian civilization, or whatever 
was similar in heathen ritual to Christian rites or institutions, 
was a counterfeit devised in advance by the demons in order 
to thwart Christianity which threatened to rob them of their 
power. It is necessary to read the early Church Fathers and 
apologists to realize how fundamental this belief was in their 
theology and in their interpretation of history and contem- 
porary life. A theology like ours, with no demons in it, 
would have seemed to Justin Martyr or Cyprian to knock 
the bottom out of the Christian faith. 

But if heathen religion was the service of demons, all 
heathen life was under their control, for all heathen life was 
woven through with religious acts and ceremonies. Every 
official act of State, every military ceremony, every public or 
private festivity, was connected with sacrifices, libations, or 
prayers. No Christian could take part in them without defil- 
ing himself with the deadly sin of idolatry. The only course 
open to Christians was to diminish their points of contact with 
heathen society and constitute a little social world within the 
world. Such a mingling in the common life as an effort at 
social reconstruction would involve, was quite out of the 
question. The best social service which the Church could 
render to the heathen world was to counteract and break the 
power of the demons. 

The causes already enumerated were on the whole confined 
to early Christianity. The State was hostile, and any moral 



158 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

The limita- campaign against social wrongs was impossible. The Lord 
1 nmiuve was C0m ^ n 8 to us ^ er 1>n ^ e new era > anc ^ anv h uman effort f 01 



Christianity a slow amelioration was needless. The heathen world was so 

i*ruetua- corrupt, so hostile, and so penetrated by demon poweis, that 

llon any hope of changing its evil life was paralyzed by the very 

magnitude of the task involved. Thus in spite of the power- 

ful social impetus residing in primitive Christianity such a 

process of conscious moral reconstruction of society as we 

conceive to-day was both theoretically and practically out of 

the question in the first three centuries. 

Moreover, these early Christians were subject to the same 
limitations of human nature to which we all are prone. They, 
too, were creatures of custom. Before slavery was abolished 
in our country, there were millions of genuine Christians, 
honestly willing to see and do the right in other matters, to 
whom it seemed a preposterous proposition that slavery is 
incompatible with Christianity. To them it was a necessary 
and fundamental human institution, like the family or the 
school. To-day there are very few Christians who realize 
that it is a crying wrong to hold land idle for speculation in 
cities where men's lungs are rotting away, overgrown with 
tuberculosis bacilli for lack of air; few who realize that it is a 
flat denial of Christianity to take advantage of the needs of 
your fellow-man to buy his labor cheaply or sell him your 
goods dearly. These things seem to us a necessary and 
inevitable part of the structure of society. If, therefore, the 
early Christians accepted the universal institution of slavery 
as part of the social universe; if it was centuries before we 
hear any straight declaration against the principle of slavery 
in the Church; and if the Church itself became a great slave- 
owner in the later days of its wealth need we be surprised 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 159 

who have had nineteen centuries of Christian influences upon 
us and who are still so blind to wrong? 

Moreover, in the early generations the churches were 
mainly composed of slaves and poor people whose minds 
were stunted by toil and lack of culture. The physical fear 
of persecution, the sense of social ostracism, the superstitious 
fear of demon powers, the self-righteous pride and narrow- 
ness inseparable from sectarian relgious life, combined to shut 
them up in their own organizations and to rob them of the 
wide and free outlook on human life. It is quite possible for 
a flower-pot or a religious body to be exceedingly narrow, and 
yet to harbor the germinating seed of something very great. 
It is one of the most convincing testimonies to the Christian 
religion that within such human environment it was able 
to generate such religious thought and energy. 

It was thus entirely natural and excusable if the recon- 
structive purpose inherent in Christianity did not find its 
largest application in the primitive beginnings of Christianity. 
It would be miraculous if it had. But the harm was done 
when subsequent generations took this failure as an excuse or 
even as a command for similar inaction. Since the end of the 
second century " apostolic" became the decisive word in the 
Church. Whatever the apostles had done or not done was 
binding precedent. In later times the opinions of the great 
Fathers received a similar authority, which almost throttled 
free initiative. Human life is always imitative and there- 
fore conservative. But religion, by the very reverence which 
makes it noble, intensifies the conservative instinct. It 
embalms even insignificant usages and ideas and gives them 
binding authority. Thus the attitude of the primitive 
Church toward society tended to perpetuate itself when all 



l6o CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

the causes which had created that attitude had long di& 
appeared. Paul lived under a hostile government and in 
view of the speedy end of the world. We live under our own 
government, free to think and speak as we will; we look 
backward on nineteen centuries of Christian history, and 
we look forward to an indefinite continuance of the present 
world. Yet it still passes as a clinching argument for Chris- 
tian indifference to social questions that Paul never started a 
good government campaign. " When two do the same thing, 
it is not the same." We cling to the letter of primitive 
Christianity and are false to its spirit. We have turned the 
eagle-minded Paul, one of the greatest champions of free- 
dom and progress in all history, into a personified code of law 
and precedent that bids us ever remain where he stood. We 
have thrust the steel driving-rod of an old locomotive between 
the spokes of a new locomotive. There is the grim humor 
of human life ! 

The other- There is another line of causes which set in very early, but 

oTchns- 88 Which did n0t COmC t0 their ful1 f rCe in P rimitive Chris ' 

tiamty. tianity. They swayed that "catholic" Christianity which 
developed out of primitive Christianity about the end of 
the second century and which ruled with unbroken power 
till the Reformation. 

We have seen that the ancient Hebrew religion had been 
for this present life. The hope of blessedness or the fear of 
punishment in a life after death plays no appreciable part in 
Old Testament religion. The prophetic insistence on pres^ 
ent social righteousness and the hope of a Messianic reign on 
earth developed in a national religion devoted to the present 
life. 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION l6l 

On the other hand, in the Graeco-Roman world there was 
an intense desire for the future life. A great revival of 
religion had begun in the pagan world before the Christian 
era and continued for several centuries to gather strength. 
The deep interest in religious philosophy, the popularity of 
the " mysteries, " the eagerness with which old Oriental 
religions were welcomed in the West, and the swiftness with 
which religions made headway, were all symptoms of this 
new religious awakening. The chief hope held out by 
all these religious movements was the atonement and puri- 
fication of sin and the attainment of immortal life. 

It was natural that when Christianity spread in the pagan 
world that men should seize that part of its rich and varied 
contents which most appealed to their desires, and em- 
phasize it to the exclusion of others. They saw in Christ 
the redeemer from earthliness. By his incarnation, his death 
and resurrection he had implanted potential immortality in 
the human race. By baptism the immortal life could be 
imparted to the believer; by the eucharist, that "medicine of 
immortality," and by the mortification of the body, it could 
be nourished and strengthened to the final triumph over all 
that clogged it. Nearly all the early Fathers wrote on the 
resurrection. The gift of immortality was the great theme of 
early Greek theology. The Nicene Council was not merely 
the triumph of a christological formula, but of that concep- 
tion of Christianity which made it primarily redemption 
from death and impartation of immortality. The prayers 
for the dead and to the dead, the festivals of the martyrs 
and saints, the poetic speculation on heaven and hell and 
purgatory, the desire for a blessed death with all "the 
consolations of religion," the apparatus presented in the 



162 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

sacraments of the Church to attain security from hell 
and early release from purgatory, the churchyards crowd- 
ing up to the churches and into them all these testify 
to the place which the future world held in the thoughts of 
ancient and mediaeval Christianity. 

But as the eternal life came to the front in Christian hope, 
the kingdom of God receded to the background, and with 
it went much of the social potency of Christianity. The 
kingdom of God was a social and collective hope and it was 
for this earth. The eternal life was an individualistic hope, 
and it was not for this earth. The kingdom of God involved 
the social transformation of humanity. The hope of eternal 
life, as it was then held, was the desire to escape from this 
world and be done with it. The kingdom was a revolu- 
tionary idea; eternal life was an ascetic idea. 

We modern men, too, believe in eternal life, but the asceti- 
cism is almost drained out of it. We hold that this life is 
good and the future life will be still better. We feel that we 
must live robustly now and do the work God has given us to 
do, and at death we shall pass to a higher world in which we 
shall serve him in still higher ways. But in former stages of 
Christianity the feeling was rather that this is an evil world 
from which only death can free us : at the best a discipline to 
prepare us for the heavenly life; at the worst a snare to cheat 
us of it. The body is a sepulchre; the world a prison; from 
both the soul hopes to escape. The heaven-born spirit 
longs for emancipation from the grossness of matter. 

This dualism of spirit and matter was not derived from 
the teaching of Jesus. It was in the intellectual atmosphere 
of the day part of the general spiritual equipment of the 
times. Platonic and Stoic philosophy taught it. It was the 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 163 

strongest religious ingredient in Gnosticism, in Neo-Platonism, 
and all the religious movements of that age. It was inevitable 
that Christianity, both in its theology and its popular reli- 
gious feelings, should be deeply affected by it. But such 
a conception of present life and future destiny offered no 
motive for an ennobling transformation of the present life. 
Why should Christians labor to make this present life just 
and beautiful when by its very nature it was sensual and 
debasing? To make this life sweet and attractive would 
only rivet the chains which the soul should long to strip off, 
and would quench that longing for heaven which was the 
mark of earnest religion. It is significant that those Church 
Fathers who brought the eternal life to the front in the 
thought of the Church, cither unconsciously or consciously 
parted company with the millennial hope. 1 

The hymns of the Church are like an auriferous sand-bed 
in which the intenser religious feelings of past generations have 
been deposited. They perpetuate what would otherwise be 
most fugitive : the religious emotions. If any one will look 
over either the standard church hymnals or the popular 
revival collections, he will find very few hymns expressing the 
desire for a purer and diviner life of humanity on earth. So 
far as I have been able to see, those hymns which have some- 
thing of the ring of the social hope are either re-expressions 
of Hebrew hymns, or hymns about the millennial coming of 
Christ, or patriotic hymns, or foreign missionary hymns. 
From these four significant sources some joy of the social 
hope has streamed into Christian hymnology. On the other 
hand, the hymns expressing the yearning of the soul for the 
blessed life in the world to come are beyond computation. 

1 Irenaeus unconsciously, Clement of Alexandria and Origen consciously. 



164 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

The other-worldliness of Christians indirectly did affed 
social life for good. The fear of eternal punishment, the 
hope of eternal reward, the prospect of facing the great Judge 
of all things, held many a coarse nature from evil and to 
justice and mercy, who might not have done the right for 
the right's sake or through any higher motive. It helped 
to sensitize the conscience of the Christian nations up to a 
certain point. But that only confirms our general proposition, 
that the social effects hitherto produced by Christianity have 
been produced indirectly as by-products, and that the main 
current of its power has been deflected from the task of 
Christianizing social life. 

The ascetic The other-worldliness of early Christianity was only one 
tendency. as p ec |- O f fa general ascetic view of life. When ascetic piety 
turned its face to the future, it longed for complete release 
from the world and the body, and for the bliss of pure spirit- 
uality in heaven. When it turned its face to present duties 
and relations, it sought to lessen the contact with the world 
and to wear thin the body, in order to weaken the hold of the 
sensuous and material over the soul, to enjoy some foretaste 
of the rapturous contemplation in heaven, and to prepare 
the spirit for its final victory and escape. This attitude of 
mind was common to all earnest religious movements of the 
ancient world. Christian asceticism was not Christian; it 
was only a Christian modification of a general spiritual drift 
in contemporary life. All these movements in some measure 
identified evil with matter. The flesh that envelops the soul 
is the seat of evil; hence it must be opposed and worn down. 
The world with its glamour and entanglements is a kind of 
larger physical integument, enchaining the soul in material 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 16$ 

and temporal interests ; the less of it, the better foi the soul. 
The spirit that desires emancipation must not only avoid 
excess and wrongful pleasure, but cut down all satisfaction of 
the natural desires to a minimum. The perfect life would be 
the contradiction of nature. 

The sexual instinct is the most insistent, powerful, and 
intimate form in which the soul encounters the power of the 
material life and the attractiveness of the world. Therefore 
ascetic religion turned against sexual desire as its chief enemy. 
Its fight against sexual evils is one of the Church's chief titles 
to honor. It was a fight against tremendous odds of heredi- 
tary abnormal passions, vicious customs and opinions, and 
the deposit of centuries of sensuality in literature, art, and 
religion. The Church branded all sexual intercourse outside 
of marriage as mortal sin, in man as well as in woman, and so 
protected the happiness of the family and the most impor- 
tant right of woman. It stood against concubinage and the 
divorce evil of the ancient world. Its influence on legisla- 
tion in the Roman Empire was stronger in this domain of life 
than in any other. 1 

But this insistence on personal purity lost much of its 
social value by its disparagement of the sexual life in general. 
Marriage, too, was regarded by many of the early church 
teachers as a lower moral condition, a relation necessarily 
involving physical defilement, a compromise with the fallen 
life of humanity, a concession to the weakness of the flesh. It 
was not a relation good in itself, but simply a preventive of 
licentiousness needed by the weak. Blessed were those who 
did not need it. Since the second century the Church honored 
voluntary virginity in man and woman. For a long time it 

1 See Brace, "Gesta Christi," Chaps. III-IV. 



l66 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

frowned on a second marriage as a blemish on Christian 
character. Men who were already in the bonds of marriage 
might become priests, but none who was already in holy 
orders should descend to marry. Of its higher churchmen it 
early began to demand a life of abstinence, even if they were 
married. Finally celibacy was demanded of all priests in 
the Western Church. But the moral demands imposed on 
the clergy as a law were imposed on all men as an ideal, 
especially after monasticism captured the heart of the Church 
from the fourth century onward. Not only the young re- 
mained unmarried, but many left their families to join the 
"angelic choirs" of the ascetic. Women handed their 
children over to churches or monasteries and dedicated them- 
selves to holiness. That enthusiastic propagandist of monk- 
ery, St. Jerome, said, "Though your mother with hair un- 
bound and garments torn point to the breasts that nourished 
you, and though your father lie on the threshold, tread over 
him with dry eyes and take the flag of Christ," that is, 
become a monk. 1 "To be converted to God" came to mean 
entering a monastery. Even Chrysostom, the sensible, pic- 
tures the model husband as the one who lives almost like a 
monk. 

Now, marriage is the fundamental social relation. The 
family is the social cell. It is society in miniature. If this 
was the attitude of ascetic Christianity toward the most 
natural and most loving of all social institutions, what chance 
of proper treatment did the other social relations have ? Of 
course for the majority of men the common sense of nature 
was fortunately stronger than any ideal motives which religion 
could marshal to thwart nature. They continued to marry 

'Epistle 14, a. 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION l6j 

and to beget children and be happy. But with such views 
of the perfect Christian life, it would be with a feeling either 
of actual sin or at least of falling short of the highest life. It 
is true the Church in many ways took the family life under 
its special care. It made marriage a religious ceremony and 
declared it a sacrament. And yet marriage continued to be a 
second-best condition, and in that atmosphere a true Chris- 
tianizing of even that simplest social relation was hardly 
possible. It was one of the greatest social services of the 
Reformation that it broke with the ascetic ideal so far as 
marriage was concerned, and ranked the married life as 
higher than the unmarried. The Catholic Church still theo- 
retically views voluntary celibacy as the flower of virtue, but 
practically Catholics have shared with Protestants in the 
emancipation from the ascetic ideal, which was originally due 
to non-Christian influences, but which has so long been able 
to pose as almost the essence of Christian morality. 

The attractiveness of this present world reaches us mainly 
through two channels, the family and property. The 
family comprises the people who are dear to us, and property 
the things that are dear to us. Asceticism turned its vigor 
against both. If we are to be emancipated from the world, 
the hold of the property instinct must be broken. Under the 
pressure of the monastic movement men left their property 
altogether, and dedicated themselves to a life of poverty. 
The more absolute the poverty, the holier the monk or the 
order. For those who remained in their family and calling, 
the ideal was fundamentally the same. Let them at least 
limit their needs and give away the surplus saved. 

Under the stimulus of this ascetic distrust of property 
very large amounts were set free for charity. In fact, the 



l68 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

charitable activity of the Church was amazing. For sheei 
willingness to give, modern Christianity cannot match its 
beneficence with ascetic Christianity. But this giving was 
not essentially a social conflict with the moral evils of pauper 
ism, but a religious conflict with the moral evil of the love ot 
property. The aim was not primarily to lift the poor recipient 
to social health, but to discipline the soul of the giver. The 
Church Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries condemned 
private property with such vigor that they have often been 
classed as communists. But they took this ground, not 
because they saw how valuable for the moral life a fair 
diffusion of property would be, but because they feared the 
seductive charm of property. They never proposed a com- 
munistic production of more wealth, but only called on men 
to share what wealth they had. If all had obeyed them, the 
productive capital of society would have been turned in for 
consumption, and society would have eaten its own head 
off. 

The zeal for giving evoked by ascetic self-discipline was 
greatly reenforced by the desire to gain merit. Asceticism 
and the idea of religious merit are very closely connected. If 
the Christian who enjoys his family and property can be saved 
and get to heaven, the man who, for the love of God, strips 
himself of family and property surely must have something 
more than mere salvation. He would have a surplus with 
God, with which he could either pay up the debts contracted 
through former sins or which he could turn over to the gen- 
eral treasure of merit on which the weak and sinful could 
bank. It was one of the most important contributions of 
Paul to spiritual religion that he denied utterly that man could 
earn merit with God, but threw him naked and humble on 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 169 

the mercy of God. When the capitalistic impulse tries to 
accumulate a cash balance in heaven and do business with 
the Lord on a debit and credit basis, commercialism poisons 
religion. 

The desire to discipline the soul and the desire to win 
merit united in making men give large amounts in charity, but 
they also vitiated the social effectiveness of the giving. The 
social effect was subsidiary. The giving was the main thing, 
not the help Almsgiving was the best means of penitence, 
the most effective bath of the soul next to baptism a means 
of holiness even stronger than prayer or fasting. The poor, 
through whom this virtue was acquired, were "the treasure of 
the Church," part of its equipment, a kind of gymnastic 
apparatus on which the givers increased their moral muscle. 
Hence begging was ennobled. It became a profession with 
its own class spirit. The mendicant orders almost glorified 
it. Since the effect produced by the alms was a secondary 
matter, men preferred to turn their alms over to the Church 
to be used at its discretion ; their part was done with the giv- 
ing. There were many organizations to elicit gifts, but no 
systematic organization of charity for the purpose of abolish- 
ing pauperism. 

Of course a great deal of good was done. Human kind- 
liness and good sense were never wholly paralyzed. The 
touch of brotherly love was warm in spite of all calculations of 
merit to be earned. But it is clear that the religion which 
elicited the charity, at the same time thwarted it, and that 
under these religious conceptions a sane Christianization of 
social relations would never be undertaken. As long as 
asceticism ruled in Christianity, the force of religion was 
exerted to lift men out of their social relations, instead of 



*70 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

bringing them into normal relations. It would seek to sup 
press the natural instincts instead of finding the right and 
happy channels for them. 

Mpnas- It is a remarkable demonstration of the incurably social 
nature both of man and of Christianity that when religion 
sought most earnestly to escape from social life, it turned its 
hand once more to build up a true social life. Every mon- 
astery proposed to be an ideal community. 

The idea that society and the State were ruled by demons 
and were anti-Christian in their character, was abandoned as a 
matter of course when the Church was supported by the State 
and society became Christian in name. But this primitive 
pessimism was not supplanted by any true conception of this 
world as the very place in which the kingdom of God was to be 
built up by making all natural relations normal and holy. 
The older view was replaced by another pessimistic amalga- 
mation of Greek philosophy and biblical ideas. 

Philosophy had speculated about the original condition of 
humanity as a state of freedom and equality. The Bible 
told of a happy state in paradise before man fell. Man then 
must have been by nature free from those evils from which 
ascetic piety now painfully strove to free him once more. 
Originally man was free from sexual desire and from covet- 
ousness; there was no family nor private property, no com- 
mercial machinery for money-getting, no difference of rich 
and poor, or of master and slave. The ideal life, then, would 
consist in the abandonment of all these social institutions. 
Their abolition was out of the question for the mass of fallen 
humanity, but the chosen few at least could leave the sinful 
social life and create a little world apart in which they would 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 171 

live out the holy life which God originally ordained for man. 
These social ideas blended with the ascetic desire for self- 
discipline to create the monastic community. Here the 
foundations of civil society, the family, property and worldly 
profession, were annihilated, and here the life of Christian 
perfection was to be lived. 

Throughout the Middle Ages an incalculable quantity of 
moral and spiritual energy was put into the organization and 
reformation of monastic communities. Whoever desired to 
live a consecrated Christian life, became a monk as a matter 
of course. Every monastic order was a society for Christian 
endeavor. The noblest and greatest minds spent themselves 
in summoning men to a still higher type of ascetic community 
life, or in repairing these fragile human edifices which were 
built on a contradiction of nature and persisted in obeying 
the law of gravitation and sliding down to ruin. In turn, all 
the great moral movements of mediaeval Christianity were led 
by monks and fostered in the monasteries where all the 
idealists gathered. In ever widening circles the monastic 
ideal laid hold of men. The mendicant orders immensely in- 
creased the numbers, because they made the support of the 
monks so cheap. And beyond the regular orders were the 
lay brotherhoods, the members of which approximated the 
monastic life as nearly as their family and calling permitted. 

Monasticism was rich in beneficent social effects. Many 
of the monks were sympathetic and wise counsellors and 
friends of the people. Every monastery was a centre for 
charitable aid of travellers and the poor. The monasteries 
founded in wild and desert districts became pioneers of civ- 
ilization, models of better agricultural methods and simple 
horticultural experiment stations. 



172 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

But they rendered this social aid without any intention to 
reconstitute the social community about them. That was 
impossible. If any one desired to live in a really Christian 
community, let him come into the monastery. The monks 
aided the poor and sick, because that was part of ascetic 
Christianity ; in doing so they gave away the property of the 
order, and giving was salutary. They preferred the barren 
and wild places for their monasteries, not in the spirit of the 
modern missionary or the social settlement, because they were 
most needed there, but because they were farthest away from 
human society and therefore nearest to God. The Irish 
monks, for instance, first settled the lonely islands in their 
rivers ; then the islands of the sea ; then the strange countries 
with alien tongue all to be pilgrims for Christ. Then in- 
cidentally they came in contact with the inhabitants of these 
foreign countries and became missionaries by force of their 
humane Christianity and in spite of their ascetic Christianity. 
If the monks became pioneers of agriculture, it was not be- 
cause they were anxious to enrich the peasants They had to 
work to get a living for their monastic colony and the poor 
supported by it, and to be independent of the world. More- 
over, work was a salutary means of subduing the sensual 
desires begotten by idleness, and of giving the vagrant 
thoughts a definite task. Usually they selected trades that 
were compatible with meditation and that did not minister to 
luxury. But since they were a community working under a 
single management and having a continuous economic life, 
they had division of labor, gradual accumulation of wealth 
and improvement of methods, and contact with the experience 
and resources of distant regions. Thus the latent socialism 
in their community life worked a blessing in spite of their 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 173 

ascetic religion. In fact, every monastic body was a com- 
munistic colony. That was an essential part of its attempt 
to revive the apostolic and ideal life. 

Now these institutions, founded usually with noble devo- 
tion to God, with an honest desire to live the perfect life, 
carrying with them so many admirable effects for the religious 
and social life of men, were nevertheless one potent cause for 
the failure of Christianity to undertake its reconstructive 
social mission. 

The finest and most elevated natures were picked out of 
society as by a spiritual magnet and placed in communities by 
themselves, isolated from common society. The energy which 
they ought to have devoted to making society normal, they 
employed in making themselves abnormal. The power that 
might have lifted mankind up, was used in wearing them- 
selves down. The good men among the monks served 
mankind even as monks ; but would men of that stamp not 
have served it if they had remained in the natural bonds of 
family and neighborhood ? 

When the monastic movement first swept over the ancient 
Church, it is certain that many went out to the hermit colo- 
nies at least partly because they were weary of the burdens 
of taxation and service imposed by the tottering Empire, and 
of the lack of freedom that hemmed all men in. They shook 
off the burdens of civilization at a time when civilization was 
desperately in need of all its human resources, and especially 
of all moral energy. They necessarily unloaded on those who 
remained the burdens which they refused to carry longer. 
Thus a social organism, wasted by disease and attacked by 
external dangers, was further bled of some of its best blood 
corpuscles. Ascetic and monastic Christianity contributed 



174 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

not a little to the fall of the Roman Empire and the destruc- 
tion of ancient civilization. 

During the Middle Ages some of the best organizing ability, 
which might have sufficed to meet the social anarchy and 
disorganization of society, was devoted to the organization of 
local monasteries or new orders, or to the reformation of old 
orders. When occasionally some great monastic leader took 
hold of a real moral and social task, the effect was sometimes 
wonderful. 

One of the worst consequences of monasticism was the 
sterilizing of the best individuals. The minds of ideal bent 
were not allowed to propagate. The monks and nuns were 
condemned to childlessness. The enthusiasm of the monas- 
tic movement dragged the common priesthood into celibacy 
also. Aside from the considerations of ecclesiastical politics, 
it was chiefly the reaction of monasticism which made celibacy 
compulsory for the priest. But the sterility of monks and nuns 
and priests for so many centuries turned the laws of heredity 
against the moral progress of the race. It was just as if an 
agricultural experiment station should nip off all the flowers 
that showed unusual color and fragrance and should develop 
seed from the rest. It has been truly asserted that the most 
draining effect which war has on the life of nations is that it 
kills off the capable and lets the incapable propagate. Monas- 
ticism eliminated the morally capable, just as war eliminates 
the physically capable. God alone knows where the race 
might be to-day if the natural leaders had not so long been 
made childless by their own goodness. The wonderful 
fecundity of the Protestant parsonage in men of the highest 
ability and ideality is proof of what has been lost. If those 
who were vowed to celibacy still followed the desires of nature, 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 175 

they begot children under a sense of sin and shame. What 
that may signify for the psychical development of the child, 
we are not wise enough to tell. The Catholic Church has 
always had an instrument of immense mobility and resource- 
fulness in the priests and monks and sisters who were not 
burdened with family cares and ties, and therefore able to 
give their thought and service wholly to the interests of the 
Church. When this instrument is turned to social purposes, it 
is exceedingly effective and noble. But a married ministry is 
more likely as a body to share the point of view and social 
interests of the common mass of men who also have women 
to love and children to provide for. A celibate ministry is 
perhaps more efficient for the Church; an equally good 
married ministry is of more service to the kingdom of God. 1 
Thus the monastic movement deflected and paralyzed the 
forces which might have contributed to a Christian recon- 
struction of society. It also made the very idea of such a 
reconstruction impossible. Every monastery was a concrete 
assertion that the ordinary life of men was not only evil and 
far removed from Christian conditions, but also that it was 
inherently so and incapable of real Christianization. If a 
man wanted to live a really Christian life, he must get out of 
civil society and into monastic society. Thereby the common 
social life was condemned like a rotten hulk, and the most 
potent spiritual authority of that age declared any effort to 
reconstruct it to be useless in the nature of things. Thus the 
reconstructive aim of Christianity was declared impossible, 
and the indomitable reconstructive energy of Christianity 
was turned to the building of ideal communities outside of 
the common life. 

1 On the entire subject see Lea, "History of Sacerdotal Celibacy." 



176 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

Sacrament- It was one of the fundamental characteristics of pro< 
phetic religion in Israel that the service of God was sought in 
ethical conduct and not in ceremonial performances. 1 Chris- 
tianity in its original purity was even more a religion of 
absolute spirituality, almost wholly emancipated from cere- 
monial elements, insisting simply on right relations to men 
as the true expression of religion. If this attitude had been 
maintained, it would have turned the force of the religious im- 
pulse toward social righteousness, and would inevitably have 
resulted in a progressive insight into moral wrong, and a pro- 
gressive reconstruction of social relations in conformity with 
Christian ideas. 

But even in the first generation few were able to rise to the 
spirituality of Jesus and Paul. The Jewish Christians clung 
to their inherited ceremonial and tried to bind Christianity 
down to it. Christians who had come out of paganism were 
imbued with the customs, the instincts, the points of view 
created by the entire religious past of the race. It would 
have been an almost inconceivable leap forward in social and 
religious evolution if Christianity for the mass of men had 
remained purely ethical and spiritual. As a matter of fact, 
Christianity did not displace paganism, but penetrated its 
bulk with a kind of chemical force which was destined in the 
slow processes of human history ultimately to disintegrate 
and eliminate paganism from human thought and conduct. 
In a large sense the entire history of Christianity to our day 
may be understood as an effort of the spirit of Christianity 
to overcome the inheritance of ethnic ideas and superstitions. 
The Reformation was an important epoch in that process, 
but it is not yet completed. 

1 pp. 4-8- 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 177 

Christianity in the heathen world rapidly relapsed toward 
the pre-prophetic stage of religion. The material furnished 
by Christianity was worked over into a new ceremonialism, 
essentially like the magic ritual of the Greek mysteries and 
Oriental cults, only more wonderful and efficacious. Baptism 
was a bath of regeneration, cleansing the guilt of all pre- 
baptismal sins, and making the soul like that of a new-born 
child. In the sacrament of the eucharist in some mysterious 
way the very body and blood of the Lord were present, and 
the divine could be physically eaten and its powers received 
to transform the material into the spiritual and immortal. 
The formulas of baptism and the Lord's Supper were 
frought with magic powers. Worship became a process of 
mystagogic initiation into the divine mysteries. All the old 
essentials of pagan religion were reproduced in Christian 
form, but with scarcely a break in their essence : the effort to 
placate God by sacrifice, the amulets, vows, oracles, festivals, 
incense, candles, pictures, and statues. It was like a tropical 
jungle sprouting again after it is cut down. In Neo-Platonism, 
the highest and most refined product of the old pagan religion, 
we observe precisely the same process. The whole system of 
popular superstition was adapted in that, too. In religion the 
superstitions and feelings of the lower strata usually soak 
upward and saturate the higher. The leaders of religious 
thought will hallow by theological thought and ecclesiastical 
institutions the coarse and superstitious desires appealing to 
them from the lower masses. 

But when Christianity turned its deepest interest from 
ethical conduct to sacramental ritual, it thereby paralyzed 
its power of moral transformation. Ritualism numbed the 
ethical passion of primitive Christianity. There was a vast 



iy8 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

loss of force even in the effects exerted in private morality, 
Of course the loss was still greater in the less intimate and 
pressing duties of the wider social life. The parasitic growth 
of ritualism and sacramentalism on the body of Christianity 
is one great historical cause why Christianity has never 
addressed itself to the task of social reconstruction. 

The dog- A parallel fact is the deflecting influence of dogma, trimi* 
inatic inter- t j ye Christianity had strong convictions and was very pro- 
ductive in religious thought, but it was undogmatic. In the 
Epistle of Barnabas, written near the beginning of the second 
century, we find the noble words, "There are three dogmas 
of the Lord : the hope of life, ... and righteousness . . . 
and love." * Contrast with that the opening words of the 
so-called Athanasian Creed, "Whosoever will be saved, be- 
fore all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith; 
which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, 
without doubt he shall perish everlastingly." It then pro- 
ceeds to set forth that catholic faith in a number of subtle 
definitions on the relation between the persons of the trinity. 
Since the second century, and especially since the great doc- 
trinal controversies of the fourth century, dogma came to be 
regarded as the essence of Christianity. A man must assent 
to the true doctrine, and if he held that, the fundamental 
requirement of religion was fulfilled. But when dogmatic 
and speculative questions absorbed the religious interest, less 
of it was left for moral and social questions. The polemic bit- 
terness and intolerance engendered by the dogmatism of the 
Church have been anti-social forces of the first importance. 
But it was probably an even greater loss to the race that it9 
1 Epistle of Barnabas I, 6. 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 179 

ablest intellects, the natural leaders of humanity, concentrated 
their abilities on comparatively fruitless speculation and on the 
formulation and defence of dogmas which too often were not 
even true. 

The mass of men are not able to comprehend speculation ; 
but if they see their intellectual leaders vociferating about the 
incomprehensible, they will echo the catchwords with an 
ardor equal to their ignorance. In them the constant insist- 
ence on dogma induced an unthinking submission of intellect 
which dried up those powerful springs of free faith and will 
that had made primitive Christianity so productive. In that 
respect dogmatism cooperated with ritualism, which likewise 
requires no intelligence in the worshipper, and which always 
acts as a narcotic on the intellect of the people. But in- 
tellectual independence and determination are absolutely 
necessary if the moral forces are to make headway against 
deeply rooted wrongs. 

A type of Christianity in which pagan superstition and 
Greek intellectualism had paralyzed the original social and 
ethical impetus, was in no condition to undertake the im- 
mense task of reorganizing social relations on a Christian 
basis. Even the personality of Jesus, which is the unceasing 
source of revolutionary moral power in Christianity, was 
almost completely obscured by the dogmatic Christ of the 
Church. 

One of the profoundest changes in the history of Christian- The church 
ity took place when the simple groups of Christian believers, ^ 
who were bound together in intimate social life by the same ity. 
faith and hope, were transformed into a firmly organized, 
authoritative, and international ecclesiastical organization. 



l8o CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

Correct doctrine, as we have seen, came to be essential to 
salvation. But the Church alone was the teacher of true 
doctrine. She alone preserved the deposit of faith received 
by apostolic tradition and had the promise of Christ that she 
would be kept in the truth. The sacraments alone could 
mediate salvation, and the Church and her priesthood by 
apostolic succession and ordination alone had the power to 
administer the sacraments, to pronounce the magic words 
that would change the bread and wine into the mysterious 
vehicle of the body and blood of Christ, and to absolve from 
guilt and save from hell. Thus the Church was the great 
channel of salvation; apart from the Church there was no 
salvation. If a man wanted to be saved, and men wanted 
it intensely, he must remain in contact with the Church, 
obedient to her teaching and spiritual direction. Perhaps 
the most distinctive characteristic of Christianity down to our 
own time has been its churchliness. 

Christian ethics became churchly ethics. An action was 
good or bad mainly because the Church said so. It was 
good always if it served the Church, for the cause of the 
Church was the cause of God. 1 There was no higher exercise 
of piety than to build churches or endow monasteries. Ava- 
rice was refusal to enrich the Church. Charity to the Church 
covered a multitude of sins. If a king served the cause of the 
Church, he was a blessed man, though he might betray the 
cause of his people in doing so. Gregory of Tours freely nar- 

1 In the papal penitentiary of the fourteenth century the gravest crimes 
are those involving insubordination to the Church A priest who admitted 
an excommunicated man to worship had to pay a penalty equal to that of a 
parricide and greater than that of a perjurer A priest giving Christian 
burial while a country was under the interdict was still more severely pun 
ished. 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION l8l 

rates the shameful life of the Prankish kings, but he naively 
calls them men of God on whom the divine blessing rested, be- 
cause they were zealous for the catholic cause and confessed 
the blessed trinity. Clovis prospered because he was a sup- 
porter of the Orthodox Church. Alaric sought the same am- 
bitious ends, but lost his kingdom, his people and eternal life, 
because he was an Arian heretic. 1 The mediaeval clergy were 
often notoriously immoral , but the people were kept in awe of 
them because they were the representatives of the Church, and 
through them alone could the sacraments and the absolution 
of the Church be obtained. They might not have the spirit 
of Christ, but they had the ordination of the Church. 
Churchly correctness took precedence of Christlike goodness. 
If sin profited the Church, even sin might be holy. The 
amount of distortion of facts, falsification of history, and 
forging of documents practised in order to advance the cause 
of the Church is quite incredible. The sale of indulgences, 
which finally unfettered the popular protest of the Refor- 
mation movement, was merely a glaring instance of prostitut- 
ing the spiritual welfare of the people to the financial enrich- 
ment of the church organization. 

Christian morality finds its highest dignity and its constant 
corrective in making the kingdom of God the supreme aim 
to which all minor aims must contribute and from which they 
gain their moral quality. The Church substituted itself for 
the kingdom of God, and thereby put the advancement of a 
tangible and very human organization in the place of the 
moral uplifting of humanity. By that substitution the ethi- 
cal plane of all actions was subtly but terribly lowered. The 
kingdom of God can never be advanced by cruelty anri 

1 Gregory of Tours, "Historia Francorum," II, 40, and III, i 



1 82 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

trickery ; the power of the organized Church can be and has 
been advanced by persecution and forgery. 

By that substitution the Church could claim all service and 
absorb all social energies. It has often been said that the 
Church interposed between the soul of man and God. It 
also interposed between man and humanity. It magnified 
what he did for the Church and belittled what he did for 
humanity. It made its own organization the chief object of 
social service. 

The more churchly Christianity is, the more will the Church 
be the only sphere of really Christian activity. Only those 
portions of daily life which are related to the Church will be 
illuminated by the consciousness of serving God. The rest 
is secular, natural, permissible ; it is not religious and holy. 
The secular calling in the home, the workshop, or the town 
is left unhallowed by religion and void of that joy and en- 
thusiasm which come through the consciousness that God 
loves our work. If a man takes his religion seriously, he will 
then want to devote his life to the Church. 

The property of the primitive Church was entirely devoted 
to the needy. The officers of the Church lived by their own 
labor unless the service of Christ compelled them to forego 
their earnings. As Christianity became ecclesiastical, the 
Church made itself the chief recipient and its clergy the 
chief beneficiaries of Christian giving. If a man helped a 
friend in need, he did a moral act. If he gave to the Church, 
he did a religious act. The Church was able to offer the most 
enticing eternal rewards to those who gave to her. Thus she 
discouraged the giving of aid from man to man and en- 
couraged the concentration of giving on herself. To some 
extent this systematized charity, but it also eliminated the 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 183 

salutary human element from charity, and an ever largel 
percentage of the gifts never reached the poor. Charitable 
institutions are apt to use an increasing share of their income 
for salaries and incidentals. Trustees are apt to regard 
themselves as the practical owners of the funds they have 
long administered. The charity of the Church was perhaps 
the most distinctly social service which it rendered. That 
service was diverted the more Christianity became churchly 
in its essence. 

Since the progress of Christianity was identical with the 
progress of the Church, the ablest men consumed their 
strength in building up the power and influence of the Church 
and in working their way to the places in the Church from 
which they could direct its policies. The organizing ability 
which might have reconstituted social life was expended on 
the organization of the hierarchy and the monastic orders. 

The State is the organization through which men co- 
operate for the larger social ends. If men conceive of political 
duties as a high religious service to man and God, the State 
can be a powerful agent in the bettering of human life. As 
long as the Church was in opposition to the State, the Church 
denied that the functions of the State had any sacredness and 
deterred its members from entering political service. But 
even when the Church and the State had entered into a com- 
pact of friendship, the Church did not infuse the moral vigor 
and enthusiasm into the political life which it might have 
imparted. It turned aside many of the ablest and choicest 
spirits to the monastic life and to hierarchical careers. It 
has often been said that when the organization of the Empire 
was tottering to its fall, a new social edifice was rising in the 
organization of the Church. But the question may fairly be 



1 84 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

asked if the Church did not hasten the fall of the Empire 
by draining off so much of the best strength from civil life and 
using it for her own organization. 

The influence of the Church on humane legislation was 
neutralized by her anxiety to secure benefits for herself The 
historian Schiller, in speaking of the failure of the Church to 
act against slavery, says, "In general it is astonishing how 
little influence the Church always exerted on the develop- 
ment of law." 1 But the laws conferring financial gifts on 
the Church herself and exemptions on her clergy were very 
numerous and important. In the perpetual conflicts between 
the civil and ecclesiastical powers in the Middle Ages it is 
often difficult for us to see that the cause of Christianity was 
in any sense at stake. Doubtless the great fighting princes of 
the Church, men of the granite quarry like Hildebrand, were 
convinced that the supremacy of the Church was essential to 
the supremacy of spiritual interests and the reign of God over 
man. Doubtless they were partly right, and every good 
churchman of to-day, if he had lived then, would have gone 
with enthusiasm into the fight about lay investiture. But 
from our present perspective we see clearly enough that the 
cause of the Church was not at all identical with the cause of 
God, and that the power of Christ over humanity did not 
advance at even pace with the power of the pope over the 
princes. It was largely a class struggle, the conflict of an 
ecclesiastical aristocracy with a secular aristocracy, and the 
welfare of the people was not the real issue. When the Church 
fought for her own political interests, and not for the cause of 
the people, her influence on the State was often a disturbing 
and disastrous one. Where clericalism is a political power, 

1 Hermann Schiller, "Geschichte der romischen Kaiserzeit," I, 916. 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION l8$ 

it thrusts an alien influence into every political question. 
Civic questions are not decided on their own merit, but ac- 
cording to the profit the clerical machine may get out of them. 
This disturbing influence is greatly increased if the Church 
is not a national body, but is governed from a foreign centre 
In that case Roman schemes or the ambitions of Italian up 
starts may determine the civil policies of Germany or France. 

Thus when Christianity was embodied in an all-absorb- 
ing and all-dominating ecclesiastical organization, its social 
effectiveness was crippled. Its ethical influence was lowered 
and vitiated. Its fraternal helpfulness was largely absorbed 
by the clerical machine. Its organizing ability was spent 
on strengthening its own organization. Its influence on the 
State was used to secure benefits for itself rather than for 
the people. By connecting all religious life with its own 
organization, it left the common life unhallowed and unre- 
newed. 

In making these historical criticisms on ecclesiasticism, 
I do not belittle the immense value and importance of Chris- 
tian churches. Religion demands social expression like all 
other great human impulses. Without an organization to 
proclaim it, to teach it, to stimulate it, the religious life would 
probably be greatly weakened in the best, and in many would 
be powerless and unknown. The mischief begins when the 
Church makes herself the end. She does not exist for her 
own saKc; she is simply a working organization to create 
the Christian life in individuals and the kingdom of God in 
human society. She is an agent with large powers, and like 
all other agents she is constantly tempted to use her powers 
for herself. Our modern political parties were organized to 
advocate certain political principles and realize them in public 



l86 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

life. Gradually they have come to regard their perpetuation 
as an end in itself, and public welfare is subordinated to party 
victory. Our public-service corporations exist for the public, 
but we know how these our servants have become our masters, 
so that the public exists for their dividends. This slow, his- 
torical embezzlement of public powers, this tendency of or- 
ganizations and institutions to aggrandize themselves at the 
expense of the ends for which they were called into exist- 
ence, is one of the most important phenomena in moral 
life. There is no permanent institution but has succumbed 
to this temptation. The organization of the Church is simply 
one sinner among many, and not the worst by any means. 
Her history is the story of how she fell by rising, and rose by 
falling. No one who loves her can serve her better than by 
bringing home to her that by seeking her life she loses it, 
and that when she loses her life to serve the kingdom of God, 
she will gain it. 

Subser- Ideally the State is the organization of the people for their 
theState ' ar 6 er common interests. Actually all States have been 
organizations of some section of the people to protect their 
special interests against Jie rest. Ideally the chief function 
of the State should be the maintenance of justice. Actually 
the chief function of most States has been the maintenance 
of existing conditions, whatever they happened to be. The 
State is the representative of things as they are; the Church 
is the representative of things as they ought to be. In so far 
as it is loyal to this duty, it must be in perpetual but friendly 
conflict with the State, pushing it on to ever higher lines of 
duty. Nothing better coulH happen to any State than to have 
within it a Church devoted, not to its own selfish corporat p 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 187 

interests, but to the moral welfare of humanity, and nudging 
the reluctant State along like an enlightened pedagogue. 

Before Constantine the Church was, of course, unable to 
fulfil any such friendly office as moral monitor. After Con- 
stantine the Church was in many respects less free than it had 
been before. The Christian emperors considered the appa- 
ratus of the Church as an important part of the machinery 
of the Empire, and kept a firm and coercing hand on the 
legislative councils and the episcopal executives of the Church. 
Their favors were even more deadly than their decrees of 
banishment. The leaders of the Church learned to be cour- 
tiers in order to further the interests of their sees and of ortho- 
doxy in general, and the atmosphere of courts is not healthy 
for any who are to champion the cause of the people in the 
spirit of Christ. During the Middle Ages the landed wealth 
of the Church made her a part of the feudal system. She 
was on the whole a conservative and merciful landlord, but 
her interest was with the landed aristocracy and the govern- 
ing powers. When she antagonized the State, it was in her 
own interest. The Reformation did not directly remedy 
the dependence of the Church on the State, but in some 
countries made the Church an even more servile tool of the 
princes. To our own day, wherever the Church leans on 
state protection and lives on state aid, she is expected to lend 
her moral support to the State to maintain existing conditions, 
and she does so. Both in England and Germany, for in- 
stance, the Established Church is a Tory influence. But when 
she is thus allied with the powers that be, she can make no 
effective protest against the wrongs that be. The Church 
supported by the State is in the position of the office-holders 
appointed by the party in power. They have to support the 



1 88 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

policy of the administration, praising it when it is good, and 
defending it when it is bad. The separation of Church and 
State has the double advantage of removing the clerical 
influence from political life, and the political influence from 
church life. It leaves the Church unmuzzled to speak out, if 
it has anything to say. It does its best work when it is the 
party in opposition, poor but vociferous. 

The Church as a body has been dependent on the State 
and therefore subservient to it. The members of the Church 
individually have been politically disfranchised and subject 
to their rulers, and that has made them passive on questions 
of political morality. 

While the Church lived in the hostile and heathen Empire, 
its members had to keep aloof from public life and to find 
all their interests in the narrow circle of the family and the 
churches. Hence, so far as asceticism permitted, the ethics 
of the family was developed and leavened with Christian 
ideas. The early narrowness of interest left its record in the 
writings of the apostles and the early Fathers, and set a prece- 
dent for later times. 

But even when Christianity was tolerated and encouraged, 
the mass of men were shut out from active participation in 
government. Politics was the occupation of a privileged 
class. But where there are no political rights, there are no 
political duties, and the sense of political obligation is not 
developed. A man is not likely to take a keen and intelligent 
interest in a sphere of action over which he has no control 
and in which he is never called to act. 

Moreover, if a preacher had an audience of subject peasants, 
he had no incentive to preach politics to them, unless he was 
a popular agitator. What political duties could he preach to 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 189 

them except to render obedience to the king and their feudal 
lord, and to be content in the station in which it had pleased 
God to place them? And of that kind of political preaching 
there has always been more than enough. There has never 
been any feeling of treading on ground alien to religion when 
the few but invaluable texts were reached in which law and 
order are enjoined. It was only when a preacher spoke 
before kings and gentry like Latimer, or before the citizens 
of free cities like Savonarola, or when some great national 
movement stirred all classes in a common interest against a 
foreign enemy, that social or political preaching could be 
attempted, and right valiantly did many a Christian man use 
such opportunities. 

But the limits set by a despotic age have continued into 
our democratic age. They have become theological tradition. 
The sermons of one generation are read and imitated by the 
next. Theological text-books and teachers move along the 
trodden paths. The wider interests thrown open by the 
advent of the people to political power have very slowly 
called forth corresponding religious thought. The old 
historical conditions have evolved a theory by which a circle 
of short radius is drawn about the individual. The relations 
lying within that circle are supposed to be within the province 
of religious thought and church teaching; those lying beyond 
it are outside of the realm of religion. The ethics of the 
private life, of the family, and of friendly social intercourse, 
together with the interests of education, literature, and to some 
extent of art, lie within this circle. Industry, commerce, and 
politics in the main lie outside of it. "Religion has nothing 
to do with politics and sociology." This circular division 
has no rational justification. It is an historical product of an 



jgO CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

age when the common people were shut out from participa- 
tion in public affairs. It is now out of date and its perpetua- 
tion is wholly bad. The people now have political and social 
rights, yet the Church is not giving adequate teaching on the 
duties corresponding to those novel rights. Industrial and 
political affairs press upon the life of every man with a force 
unknown formerly, yet the organization which ought to 
discuss the new moral problems is silent or inefficient 
in its teaching. The great sociologist Schaeffle, speaking 
of the slowness with which the larger relations of com- 
merce and politics have been affected by Christianity, 
truly says, "The great need of our time is a public moral- 
ity." 

The dependence of the Church on the State, and the 
political passivity of the subject people, combined to cripple 
the social efficiency of the Church in former times, and the 
precedents and theories set up in the pre-democratic age 
continue to operate even where the causes which justified 
them have passed away. 

The disap- The subjection of the Church to the State would have been 
church^ neutra h >ze d ^d overcome if only the churches had pre- 
mocracy. served the Christian democracy of their own organization. 
The primitive churches set out with an organization as 
democratic and simply patriarchal as a Teutonic town- 
meeting. By the beginning of the second century they were 
passing under the limited monarchy of a single bishop, and 
the limited monarchy tended to shake off all limitations and 
thrust down all competing forces. In ever widening areas 
monarchical organization grew up, and this tendency finally 
culminated in the absolutism of the papacy, in which all powei 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION IQ1 

flows from the head downward. The clergy became a 
hierarchy graded on monarchical principles. At the same 
time the laity were gradually ousted from all the rights of 
election, church discipline, and self-government, which they 
had originally possessed, and reduced to the helpless passivity 
of a subject population under a bureaucratic despotism. This 
slow revolution was due partly to the ambition and lust for 
power inherent in human nature, but mainly to the as- 
similating influence of secular institutions. 1 The churches 
step by step copied the forms of organization prevalent about 
them. 2 The centralization of church power in the clergy and 
the bishop in the third century took place simultaneously 
with a centralization of power in the organization of the 
Empire. 3 The Church poured its organization into the 
moulds furnished by imperial Rome, and when the mould 
was broken and crumbled away, the Church in its system of 
government stood erect as an ecclesiastical duplicate of the 
Empire. 

For the purposes of ecclesiastical aggrandizement it was 
worth a great deal to the Church that it inherited the results 
of the organizing genius of Rome, but the inheritance was 
deadly to the revolutionary social influence of the Church. 
Jesus had emphatically repudiated the principles on which 
political government is usually run: "Ye know that the 
rulers of the nations lord it over them. Not so shall it be 
among you." 4 But the Church duplicated in its own or- 
ganization the aristocracy and monarchy of the world, and 

1 See Hatch, " Organization of the Early Christian Churches." 
* See Harnack, Contemporary Review, December, 1904. 
Schiller, "Romische Kaiserzeit," I, 911 ff. 
4 Matthew 20. 20-28. 



IQ2 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

therewith prepared a home for the despotic spirit within tha 
edifice dedicated to democracy. A given spirit will create an 
institution adapted to itself; but in turn an institution will 
constantly evoke the spirit that fits it. The Catholic Church 
by its organization tends to keep alive and active the despotic 
spirit of decadent Roman civilization in which it originated. 
Even to-day, when the current of democracy is flowing so 
powerfully through the modern world, the Roman Church 
has a persistent affinity for the monarchical principle and 
an instinctive distrust of democracy. The chronic difficulty 
encountered by the Latin nations of Southern Europe and 
Southern America in making free institutions work, is 
probably not due to any inefficiency of blood or race, but 
partly to clerical interference in government, and partly to 
the anti-democratic spirit constantly flowing out from the 
Roman Church into the national life of peoples under her 
control. 1 If we ask why the Church failed to reorganize 
society on a basis of liberty and equality, we have here one of 
the most important answers. 

The causal influences running back and forth between the 
civil and the ecclesiastical organization of the people are far 
more powerful than is generally understood. The monar- 
chical government of the Roman Church originated in the 
despotic society of ancient Rome and then perpetuated itself 
by the conservatism of hallowed religious institutions. The 
aristocratic republicanism of the Calvinistic churches origi- 
nated in the Swiss republics, and then perpetuated itself 
wherever Calvinism went. The democracy of the Congre- 

1 See the little book of the eminent Belgian economist, Emile de Laveleyc^ 
"Protestantism and Catholicism in their Bearing on the Liberty and Pros- 
perity of Nations." 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 193 

gational church bodies originated in the democratic passions 
of the English Revolution and also perpetuated itself. Thus 
the Church borrows from the State. 

But in the same manner the State borrows from the Church. 
"The action of religion on the minds of men is so profound 
that they are always led to give to the organization of the 
State forms which they have borrowed from that of religion." l 
If a people is accustomed to the spirit and practice of self-gov- 
ernment in its local churches, it will find self-government 
in the civil community that much easier, and any govern- 
ment from above will be unpalatable. The Congrega- 
tional churches of New England and the town-meetings of 
New England are causally related, just like the priest-ridden 
Church of Russia and her political autocracy. The maxim 
of King James I, "No bishop, no king," was quite right in 
the perception that one kind of monarchy strengthens the 
other. In the English Revolution the political attitude of 
each section was quite accurately graded according to its 
ecclesiastical radicalism. The Episcopalians were for the 
king; the Presbyterians were for a strong Parliament; the 
Independents were republicans, and vice versa. 

Thus it seems likely that if the Christian churches had 
remained democratic and self-governing organizations, the 
spirit of Christian democracy would have been perpetuated, 
intensified, and practically trained among them, and would 
have turned with greater vigor and efficiency to all moral 
and social tasks lying about the Church. It is significant 
that with every turn toward a purer conception of worship 
and doctrine in the evangelical sects of the Middle Ages, 
there was also a turn toward democracy in church organ- 

1 De Laveleye, "Protestantism and Catholicism," p. 34. 



194 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

ization and toward radical social ideas. They all had 
communistic ideals. 

The lark cf To undertake the gradual reconstruction of social life con- 
sciously and intelligently would have required a scientific 



hension of comprehension of social life which was totally lacking in the 

socisl d&- 

velopment past. Sociology is still an infant science. Modern political 
economy may be said to have begun with Adam Smith's 
"Wealth of Nations," which was published in 1776. Mod- 
ern historical science, which is interpreting the origins and 
the development of social institutions, is only about a century 
old. 

For the ordinary man the social order as he finds it has 
all the sanctity and immutability of natural and divine law. 
Under feudalism both noble and peasant assumed that God 
himself had divided humanity into barons and serfs, and any 
contradiction of that seemed a sacrilege to the barons and a 
joyful surprise to the serfs. In monarchical countries the 
institution of kingship is regarded as the natural and divine 
order. In European thought it is treated as an axiom that 
there must be well-defined social classes. In our own country 
intelligent men assume that land has always been freely 
bought and sold by individuals as to-day; that a man has 
always had the power to dispose about his property even after 
he was dead; that business men have always bought in the 
cheapest market and sold in the dearest at whatever prices 
they could make; that workingmen have always competed 
with one another for wages; and that any attempt to change 
these social adjustments is an attempt to meddle with a natural 
law as universal as the law of gravitation. Yet our capital- 
istic organization is of comparatively recent origin, and would 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 195 

have been thought intolerable and immoral in times past 
We are only now coming to realize that within certain limits 
human society is plastic, constantly changing its forms, and 
that the present system of social organization, as it super- 
seded others, may itself be displaced by something better. 
Without such a conception of the evolution of social insti- 
tutions any larger idea of social regeneration could hardly 
enter the minds of men. The modern socialist movement is 
really the first intelligent, concerted, and continuous effort i<* 
reshape society in accordance with the laws of social develop- 
ment. 

The comprehension of the gradualness of social changes 
is also a late attainment. The childish mind wants swift 
results and loses interest if things move slowly. It wants 
the flower seeds which were planted last night to be above 
ground before breakfast. It finds the atmosphere of the 
fairy tales sc congenial, because there great things hap; en 
at the waving of the lairy's wand. This is also the 
characteristic of the savage, and in lessening degree of 
every unscientific mind. It understands personal action, 
and so far as its personal powers will reach, it is willing 
to help in making things better. For anything beyond its 
immediate reach and power it trusts in divine intervention. 
For the slow moulding of institutions by ideas and the slow 
creation of ideas to justify institutions, for the steady alterna- 
tion of cause and effect in the development of society, there 
has been no trained observation. 

The Church, as we have seen, had the conception of a 
thorough social regeneration. To that extent religion was 
prophetic and outran the political intellect by many centuries. 
But Jesus stood almost alone in the comprehension of the 



196 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

gradualness of moral conquest. The millennial hope was 
the modern social hope without the scientific conception of 
organic development. The Church Fathers were lacking in 
the historical sense for development. The educated men 
among them had been trained in the Roman rhetorical 
schools, and the educational system of that day was almost 
useless for producing historical insight. 1 The air of the 
miraculous which hung about Christian thought down to 
modern times was also directly hostile to any scientific com- 
prehension of social facts. When all things happened by 
devils or angels, how could men understand the real causes 
of things ? 

In the Bible the Church always had an historical literature 
which might have opened its eyes to a multitude of social 
facts, and every time the Bible was in some way freshly com- 
prehended, the social leaven hidden in it did begin to work. 
All the mediaeval evangelical movements which were based 
on renewed reading of the Bible involved some crude but 
noble attempt to live a life of social fraternity. When the 
Bible became the common property of the people through 
the invention of printing and the translations of the Refor- 
mation, it exerted a marked influence on the general social 
stir of that age. But in general the social enlightenment con- 
tained in the Bible was numbed by the dogmatic and ec- 
clesiastical interests of the Church and by the allegorical 
method of interpretation. Theologians hunted for proof- 
texts of dogma. Churchmen were interested in the tithing 
system of the Old Testament because it helped them to 
exact ecclesiastical taxes, but not in the land system of the 

1 See Bigg, "The Church's Task under the Roman Empire," Lecture I, 
"Education." 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION IQt 

Mosaic Law. The allegorical method neutralized the social 
contents of the Bible by spiritualizing everything For in- 
stance, the emancipation of the Israelite tribes from galling 
overwork and cruelty in Egypt, and their conquest of a good 
tract of land for settlement, is a striking story of social revolt, 
but it was turned into an allegory of the exodus of the soul 
from the world and its attainment of the Promised Land 
beyond the Jordan of death The great social parable of 
the ^ood Samaritan was " spiritualized " into an allegory of 
humanity, which leaves the divine city of Jerusalem and 
goes down to Jericho, the accursed. It falls into the hands of 
the devil and his angels, is stripped of the robes of its original 
righteousness and left half dead in its sins. But Christ finds 
it, pours wine and oil, the blood of his passion and his Spirit, 
into its wounds, and commits it to the Church to be cared for 
till his second advent. 1 This method of interpreting sacred 
books is no Christian invention. The Jews used the Old 
Testament, and the Greek philosophers used Homer in the 
same way. It was an ingenious and swift way of getting 
ready-made spiritual and doctrinal results from the Bible. 
But like a sleight-of-hand performer taking ribbons and 
rabbits out of a silk hat, it never took anything out of the 
Bible that was not already in the mind of the interpreter, 
and thus it learned nothing new from the Bible. And by its 
tendency to seek for spiritual and mystical meanings it be- 
littled and overlooked the homely social significance of the 
biblical stories and teachings. 
The Church shared with all the rest of humanity the child- 

1 This method of interpretation is still sanctioned by what is probably the 
most widely used book on the parables in English, Archbishop Trench's 
"Notes on the Parables of our Lord " 



198 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

like view of the world, the lack of the historical sense, tk 
inability to understand the facts and laws of social devel- 
opment. The moral intuition awakened by religion made it 
swifter and bolder to hope for a radical social change than 
those who travelled by common sense alone ; but the preva- 
lent belief m the miraculous and in constant divine inter- 
ventions counteracted the enlightening effects of its moral 
vision. 

These intellectual deficiencies would, perhaps, alone suffice 
to explain why the Church has never undertaken a clear- 
eyed and continuous reconstruction of society in any larger 
way. 

The out- We set out on this discussion with the proposition that the 
C ^ ai l ure f Christianity to accomplish that task of social re- 
generation to which it seemed committed by its origins, was 
not due to the conscious and wise self-limitation of the Church, 
but to a series of historical causes Some of the most impor- 
tant of these causes I have tried to set forth 1 think that for 
any one following this enumeration dispassionately and with 
previous coin prehension of the historical facts alluded to, 
even so imperfect a n'sume can hardly fail nuke the mam 
proposition at least probable. If any considerable portion of 
the argument has been correct it follows that the failure of the 
Church to undertake the work of a Christian reconstruction 
of social life has not been caused by its close adherence to the 
spirit of Christ and to the essence of its religious task, but to 
the deflecting influence of alien forces penetrating Christian- 
ity from without and clogging the revolutionary moral power 
inherent in it. 
In primitive Christianity the failure is sufficiently accounted 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION IQQ 

for by the impossibility of undertaking a social propaganda 
within the hostile Empire, and by the hostility to the exist- 
ing civilization created through the protest against idolatry 
and through the persecutions suffered by Christians. The 
catastrophic element in the millennial hope \\ as an inheritance 
from Judaism The belief in the demon powers ruling in 
heathen society was partly Jewish, partly heathen. 

The olher-worldliness, the asceticism and monastic en- 
thusiasm, the sacramental and ritual superstitions, were all 
derived from contemporary religious drifts in heathen society. 
The dogmatic bent was acquired mainly from Greek in- 
tellectuahsm. The union of Church and State was likewise 
a reversion to ethnic religion. The lack of political rights 
and interests among the mass of Christian people, and the dis- 
appearance of the original democracy of church organization, 
were part of the curse of despotism which lay upon all hu- 
manity. The lack of a scientific comprehension of society was 
m the main inevitable in the past stages of intellectual prog- 
ress. 

At first sight sue h a conception of Christian history seems 
like a tremendous impeachment of the Church for apostasy 
and dereliction of duty But not to any one who understands 
the patience of God and the infinite slowness and imperfec- 
tion of historical progress It takes so long for new ideas 
to trickle down through the solid strata of human life, so long 
for new conceptions to get sufficient grip on the mass of men 
to sway them ; so long for the moral nature of the social body 
to be sensitized. Any one who has had experience in the 
training of children or young minds will realize how hard it is 
to build a lasting basis of independent intelligence and firm 
morality, and how opposing influences perpetually neutralize 



2OO CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

the best work of the parent or teacher. Any one who has 
honestly tried to live a Christian life himself, will be ready to 
take a humble view of the success attending his efforts. Any 
one who has tried to train a single church or club or trades- 
union to take high points of view and rise to nobler lines of 
action, will realize how hopeful and how disheartening the 
task is. When Jesus bent his soul to uplift humanity, he set 
his shoulders to a task which is not accomplished in a day. 
The modern intellect, which reckons with thousands of years 
in the evolution of the savage, with hundreds of thousands in 
the formation of geological deposits, and with eternities in 
astronomical evolution, ought to be ready to have patience 
if the full results of the Christian spirit have not yet come to 
fruitage. 

If such a review of past failures leaves a feeling of con- 
demnatory surprise, it is largely due to the false expectations 
raised in the past by religious rhetoric. Christian orators 
have scurried through history for edifying anecdotes. They 
have pictured the first three centuries as a golden age of 
Christian love and purity. They have assumed that the en- 
thronement of Christianity as the state religion of the Empire 
and the apparent conquest of paganism meant the actual dis- 
appearance of pagan habits of mind and customs. As if 
anything set up by thousands of years of history could 
vanish into thin air! They have represented the progress 
of Christianity as a triumphal procession of the gospel, leav- 
ing regenerated nations and ages behind it. Then if we awake 
from that fictitious enthusiasm and face the sober facts of 
human imperfection, it is a sore and angry surprise. 

To say that Christianity in the past has largely followed 
alien influences ard has missed its greatest mission, is not to 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 201 

condemn the men of the past. They followed the light they 
had and threw their lives into the pursuit of that light with an 
ardor that puts us to shame. If we have any zeal for the 
truth in us now, it is altogether likely that we would have 
shouted for the Homousios or the Homoiusios had we walked 
the streets of Alexandria in the fourth century. If I had known 
St. Francis, I hope I should have had grace enough to be- 
come a Franciscan friar and to serve the Lady Poverty. If 
destiny had put me on the chair of St. Peter, I hope I should 
have made a good fight against the encroachments of the 
secular power on the sacred heritage of Christ and the vicar 
of Christ. But being a twentieth-century Christian, I hope 
I shall do nothing of the kind. If the men of the past flinched 
in following their ideals, they must answer to God for it. 
Also if they consciously taught what was unchristian, or 
quenched the better light in others. 

The sadness of the failure hitherto is turned into brightest The passing 
hopef ulness if we note that all the causes which have hitherto caused 
neutralized the social efficiency of Christianity have strangely modem hfc 
disappeared or weakened in modern life. Christianity has 
shed them as an insect sheds its old casing in passing through 
its metamorphosis, and with the disappearance of each of 
these causes, Christianity has become fitter to take up its 
regenerative work. Let us run over the causes of failure set 
forth in this chapter and note how they have weakened or 
vanished. 

In the Roman Empire, as we have seen, social agitation 
would have been suppressed promptly. To-day it still en- 
counters the moral resentment of the classes whose interests 
are endangered by a moral campaign and, if necessary, these 



202 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

interests are able to use the political machinery to suppress 
agitation. But in the freer countries of Western civilization 
the dissemination of moral ideas is almost untrammelled. 
The prophet's message still brings the prophet 's odium; but 
a man will have to go far if he wants to be stoned or put in the 
stocks. 

Primitive Christianity did not work for social changes 
which required a long outlook, because it expected the im- 
mediate return of Christ. That the return of Christ will end 
the present world is still part of general Christian teaching ; 
but the actual lapse of nineteen centuries has proved so 
plainly that we have to reckon with long reaches of time, 
that this expectation deters very few from taking a long look 
ahead in all practical affairs. There are, indeed, a number of 
Christian bodies and a great number of individuals who have 
systematized the apocalyptic ideas of later Judaism and early 
Christianity and have made them fundamental in their 
religious thought. They are placing themselves artificially 
in the attitude of mind which primitive Christianity took 
naturally. They are among the most devout and earnest 
people. By their devotional and missionary literature they 
exert a wide influence. They share with splendid vigor in 
evangelistic work, because evangelism saves individuals for 
the coming of the Lord, and in foreign missionary work, 
because it is an express condition that the Lord will not re- 
turn "until the gospel has been preached to all nations." 
They take a lively interest in the destructive tendencies of 
modern life, because these are " signs of the times" which her- 
ald the end ; but they do not feel called to counteract them. 
Such an effort would be predestined to failure, because the 
present world is doomed to rush through increasing corruption 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 203 

to moral bankruptcy, and Christ alone by his coming can save 
it. Historical pessimism is generally woven into the texture 
of this pattern of thought, and it is this pessimistic interpreta- 
tion of history, more than the somewhat academic expectation 
of the immediate return of Christ, which neutralizes the 
interest of this school of thought in comprehensive moral 
reformation. So far as the influence of this drift goes, it is a 
dead weight against any effort to mobilize the moral forces of 
Christianity to share in the modern social movement. This 
is all the more pathetic because these men have a nobler 
ingredient of social hope for humanity than ordinary Chris- 
tians. But outside of this sphere of thought the hope of the 
immediate millennium, which was once so influential, is no 
longer a factor to deter Christians from their wider mission 
to society. 

The primitive attitude of fear and distrust toward the 
State has passed away. We do not regard the existing civil- 
ization and its governments as hostile to Christianity. The 
ancient feeling that demon powers inspire the State has 
vanished with the belief in demons. Some to-day regard the 
State as the organization of secular life, which, though in a 
sphere apart from religion, is good and useful in its way. 
Others take the more religious view of it, that it is one of the 
divinely constituted factors to train the race for the kingdom 
of God, of equal dignity with the family and the Church. 
Under either conception it is possible to cooperate with it and 
turn the regenerative moral power of religion into the chan- 
nels of organized civil life. 

The other-worldliness of Christian desire is strangely 
diminished. We all believe in immortality, but we are not 
weary of this world. The longing to die and go to heaven is 



204 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

not regarded as a test of spiritual life as it used to be, even 
within the memory of many of us. To us salvation means 
victory over sin rather than escape from hell. This change 
of attitude dignifies the present life. It is not, then, too pal- 
try for earnest effort. The hope of personal salvation after 
death no longer monopolizes the Christian hope. There is now 
room beside it for the social hope. 

The ascetic and monastic ideal, which dominated Christian 
life for a thousand years and more, has disappeared almost 
completely. If the saints that lie buried under the stone floor 
of some ancient European church could rise and listen to a 
modern sermon, they would find their gospel turned upside 
down. Instead of praise of virginity, they would hear eulogies 1 
of family life. Instead of the call to poverty, they would heai 
the praise of Christianity because it makes men and nations 
prosperous and wealthy. Instead of exhortations to wear their 
flesh thin with fasting and vigil, they would be invited 10 
membership in the Y. M. C A., with gymnasium and bath to 
keep their flesh in a glow of health. If the old gospel of 
individualism should hereafter change into the gospel of 
socialism, the change would not be half as great as that in- 
volved in the surrender of the ascetic ideal of the Christian 
life. Some ascetic practices still linger in the observance of 
Lent. The ascetic notion occasionally crops up that men 
are best turned to God by affliction, and that revivals follow 
on hard times. The distrust of the intellectual and artistic 
and political life in English evangelicalism and German 
pietism, the retirement of the Christian within the untroubled 
realm of family and business life, is a diluted Protestant form 
of the ascetic flight from the world. The Roman Church, by 
force of its strong mediaeval traditions, still exalts the monastic 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 2O$ 

life as the crown of religious living ; but its mediaeval saints 
would think their Church was dead if they saw the scarcity of 
monks in America. The current of modern religion does not 
run away from the world, but toward it. Religion no longer 
spends its immense force in tearing men out of social life and 
isolating them from family, property, and State. Therefore 
it is now free to direct that force toward the Christianizing of 
the common life. It no longer establishes monastic com- 
munities to live the truly Christian and communistic life, 
Therefore it ought now to make the life of the entire com- 
munity truly Christian. If the disappearance of ascetic en- 
thusiasm means the evaporation of Christian self-sacrifice, 
it would mean a net loss and a surrender of Christianity to 
worldliness. If it means that the old enthusiasm is now 
directed toward the moral regeneration of society, it would 
mean a new era for humanity. 

Ceremonialism, which early clogged the ethical vigor of 
Christianity, was broken in the Reformation and is slowly 
dying out. Greek and Roman Catholicism are faithful to it 
by virtue of their conservatism, but even there it is no longer 
a creative force. There are ritualistic drifts in a few Protes- 
tant bodies, but they are not part of modern life, but romantic 
reactions toward the past The present tendency to a more 
ornate and liturgical worship in the radical Protestant de- 
nominations of America is aesthetic and not sacramental in 
motive. It is proof that sacramentalism is so dead that 
Protestant churches no longer need to fear the forms that 
might revive it. The priest is dying. The prophet can 
prepare to enter his heritage, provided the prophet himself 
is still alive with his ancient message of an ethical and social 
service of God. 



206 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

It is a commonplace that Christianity has grown less 
dogmatic. There is probably just as much earnest convic- 
tion, but it is modified by greater respect for the conviction 
of others and by a deeper interest in right living. Men and 
churches fellowship freely with little regard to doctrinal 
uniformity. One of the chief anti-social forces has therewith 
disappeared from Christianity, and the subsidence of the 
speculative interest has to that extent left Christianity free to 
devote its thought to ethical and social problems. 

Christianity in the past was almost wholly churchly. The 
organized Church absorbed the devotion, the ability, and the 
wealth of its members. To some degree that is still true. 
The churches need time and money and must strive to get 
their share. For very many men and women the best service 
they can render to the kingdom of God is really through the 
local church and its activities. In some measure, religion is 
still supposed to be bounded by the Church. What is con- 
nected with the churches is religious ; what is apart from them 
is supposed to be secular. Even very worldly affairs, like 
bazaars and oyster suppers, are religious if they raise the sup- 
port or increase the popularity of a church. On the other 
hand, efforts to fight tuberculosis or secure parks and play- 
grounds are viewed as secular, because they are not con- 
nected with a church. But there has been a great change. 
The wiser leaders of Christianity do not desire to monopolize 
the services of Christian men for the churches, but rejoice in 
seeing the power of religion flow out in the service of justice 
and mercy. Religion is less an institution and more a diffused 
force than ever before. The brazen vessel of the Church was 
fatally cracked and broken by the Reformation, and its con- 
tents have ever since been leaking away into seculai life. 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 207 

The State, the schools, the charitable organizations, are now 
doing what the Church used to do. The Roman Church 
continues its traditions of churchly authority and exclusive- 
ness. Some Protestant bodies try with more or less success to 
imitate her r61e, but Protestantism cannot compete with the 
Roman Catholic Church in churchliness. In spite of itself, 
Protestantism has lost its ecclesiastical character and author- 
ity. But at the same time Protestant Christianity has gained 
amazingly in its spiritual effectiveness on society. The 
Protestant nations have leaped forward in wealth, education, 
and political preponderance. The unfettering of intellectual 
and economic ability under the influence of this diffused force 
of Christianity is an historical miracle. Protestantism has 
even protestantized the Roman Catholic Church. The Ro- 
man Church crumbles away before it in our country and can 
only save its adherents by quarantining its children in pa- 
rochial schools and its men and women in separate social and 
benevolent societies. The churches are profoundly needed 
as generators of the religious spirit ; but they are no longer the 
sole sphere of action for the religious spiiit. They exist to 
create the force which builds the kingdom of God on earth, 
the better humanity. By becoming less churchly Christian- 
ity has, in fact, become fitter to regenerate the common life. 
Modern Christianity everywhere tends toward the separa- 
tion of Church and State. But when the Church is no longer 
dependent on the State for its appointments and its income 
and the execution of its will, it is by that much freer to cham- 
pion the better order against the chief embodiment of the 
present order. We shall see later that even when Church and 
State are separated, the Church may still be in bondage to 
the powers of the world. It can still be used as a spiritual 



208 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

posse to read the Riot Act to the rebellious minds of men 
But as the formal control of the Church by the State slackens, 
and the clerical interests are withdrawn from politics, the 
Church is freer to act as the tribune of the people, and the 
State is more open to the moral and humanizing influence of 
Christianity. At the same time the political emancipation 
and increasing democracy of the people is bound to draw the 
larger social and political problems within the interests of 
the masses, and there is sure to be a silent extension of 
the religious interest and motive to social and political 
duties. 

In the past the Church was dominated by the clergy and 
it was monarchical in its organization. The Reformation 
brought a slow turn on both points. The power of the 
hierarchy was broken ; the laity began to rise to increased 
participation in church life. That in itself insured an in- 
creasing influence of Christianity on secular life. At the 
same time the Protestant bodies, in varying degrees, reverted 
toward democracy in organization. Those Protestant bodies 
which constitute ihe bulk of Protestantism in America and of 
the free churcheb in England all have the essence of church 
democracy. Even the churches with episcopal government 
are affected by the spirit of democratic self-government. 
The Roman Church in America itself has not escaped this 
influence. All this lays the churches open to democratic 
sympathies, provided they are not merely organizations of 
the possessing classes. 

The intellectual prerequisites for social reconstruction were 
lacking formerly. They are now at hand. Travel and his- 
tory are breaking the spell of existing conditions and are 
telling even the common man that social relations are plastic 



THE WORK OF SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 209 

and variable. We have the new sciences of political economy 
and sociology to guide us. It is true, political economy in the 
past has misled us often, but it too is leaving its sinful laissez- 
jaire ways and preparing to serve the Lord and human 
brotherhood. All the biblical sciences are now using the 
historical method and striving to put us in the position of the 
original readers of each biblical book. But as the Bible 
becomes more lifelike, it becomes more social. We used 
to see the sacred landscape through allegorical interpretation 
as through a piece of yellow bottle-glass. It was very golden 
and wonderful, but very much apart from our everyday 
modem life. The Bible hereafter will be "the people's 
book" in a new sense. For the first time in religious history 
we have the possibility of so directing religious energy by 
scientific knowledge that a comprehensive and continuous 
reconstruction of social life in the name of God is within the 
bounds of human possibility. 

To a religious man the contemplation of the larger move- Conclusion 
ments of history brings a profound sense ^of God's presence 
and overruling power. "Behind the dim unknown standeth 
God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own." * 
Christ is immanent in humanity and is slowly disciplining 
the nations and lifting them to share in his spirit. By great 
processes of self-purification the alien infusions in Chris- 
tianity have been eliminated, and Christianity itself is being 
converted to Christ. 

But all these larger movements, by which the essential 
genius of Christianity is being set free, have also equipped 
it for a conscious regenerating influence on the common life 

1 James Russell Lowell, "The Present Crisis " 
p 



210 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

of the race. It is now fitter for its social mission than ever 
before. 

At the same time when Christianity has thus attained to 
its adolescence and moral maturity, there is a piercing call 
from the world about it, summoning all moral strength and 
religious heroism to save the Christian world from social 
strangulation and death. That call will be the subject of 
the next chapter. The converging of these two lines of 
development is providential. We are standing at the turn- 
ing of the ways. We are actors in a great historical drama. 
It rests upon us to decide if a new era is to dawn in the 
transformation of the world into the kingdom of God, or if 
Western civilization is to descend to the graveyard of dead 
civilizations and God will have to try once more. 



CHAPTER V 

THE PRESENT CRISIS 

WHEN the Nineteenth Century died, its Spirit descended to 
che vaulted chamber of the Past, where the Spirits of the dead 
Centuries sit on granite thrones together. When the new- 
comer entered, all turned toward him and the Spirit of the 
Eighteenth Century spoke: "Tell thy tale, brother. Give 
us word of the human kind we left to thee." 

"I am the Spirit of the Wonderful Century. I gave man 
the mastery over nature. Discoveries and inventions, which 
lighted the black space of the past like lonely stars, have 
clustered in a Milky Way of radiance under my rule. One 
man does by the touch of his hand what the toil of a thousand 
slaves never did. Knowledge has unlocked the mines of 
wealth, and the hoarded wealth of to-day creates the vaster 
wealth of to-morrow. Man has escaped the slavery of 
Necessity and is free. 

"I freed the thoughts of men. They face the facts and 
know. Their knowledge is common to all. The deeds of 
the East at eve are known in the West at morn. They send 
their whispers under the seas and across the clouds. 

"I broke the chains of bigotry and despotism. I made 
men free and equal. Every man feels the worth of his man- 
hood. 

"I have touched the summit of history. I did for man- 
kind what none of you did before. They are rich. They are 
wise. They are free." 



212 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

The Spirits of the dead Centuries sat silent, with troubled 
eyes. At last the Spirit of the First Century spoke for all. 

"We all spoke proudly when we came here in the flush of 
our deeds, and thou more proudly than we all. But as we sit 
and think of what was before us, and what has come after us, 
shame and guilt bear down our pride. Your words sound as 
if the redemption of man had come at last. Has it come ? 

"You have made men rich. Tell us, is none in pain with 
hunger to-day and none in fear of hunger for to-morrow? 
Do all children grow up fair of limb and trained for thought 
and action? Do none die before their time? Has the 
mastery of nature made men free to enjoy their lives and 
loves, and to live the higher life of the mind ? 

"You have made men wise. Are they wise or cunning? 
Have they learned to restrain their bodily passions ? Have 
they learned to deal with their fellows in justice and love? 

"You have set them free. Are there none, then, who toil 
for others against their will? Are all men free to do the 
work they love best? 

"You have made men one Are there no barriers of class 
to keep man and maid apart? Does none rejoice in the 
cause that makes the many moan ? Do men no longer spill 
the blood of men for their ambition and the sweat of men for 
their greed?" 

As the Spirit of the Nineteenth Century listened, his head 
sank to his breast. 

"Your shame is already upon me. My great cities are as 
yours were. My millions live from hand to mouth. Those 
who toil longest have least. My thousands sink exhausted 
before their days are half spent. My human wreckage 
multiplies. Class faces class in sullen distrust. Their free- 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 213 

Jom and knowledge has only made men keener to suffer. 
Give me a seat among you, and let me think why it has been 
so." 

The others turned to the Spirit of the First Century, 
"Your promised redemption is long in coming." 

"But it will come," he replied. 

Man has always suffered want and the fear of want. His The indus- 
dangers have always come from two sources, nature and ^ rev01 * 
man. 

Drought or flood, locusts or wild beasts, swept away his 
crops or herds. Earthquake and fire shook his home to ruin 
or ate up in the flare of an hour the toil of a lifetime. But 
there ib a disciplining power in the adversities of nature. 
If man wrestles bravely with her, she will turn to bless him 
and make him more a man. By learning nature's laws and 
obeying them, he makes nature obey him. 

The really grinding and destructive enemy of man is man. 
The roaming savage in famine and superstition hunted and 
ate his enemy as he hunted the beast. When men settled 
down to till the fields, they captured prisoners and made them 
drudge for them as slaves, just as they domesticated the horse 
and ox and made them work. Strong peoples conquered the 
weak and exacted forced labor or rent for the use of the land 
which the serf had once owned. Exploitation has changed 
its form from one stage of society to another, but it has 
always existed. "From the beginning until now man has 
divided his fellows into those who were to be fed and those 
who were, figuratively at least, to be eaten." l 

There has always been social misery. The pyramids of 

1 Ely, "Outlines of Economics," p. 5. 



214 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

Egypt were built on it; the Roman roads were cemented 
with it. But to-day we face a new form of it, which affronts 
all just conceptions of human life in new and peculiar ways. 
Modern poverty, strangely enough, began when man for the 
first time in history began to escape from poverty. 

The American Declaration of Independence in 1776 and 
the French Revolution in 1789 were the birth of modern 
democracy. But about the same time another revolution 
set in beside which these great events were puny. 1 In 
1769 James Watt harnessed the expansive power of steam for 
human use. Hitherto man had used only the localized power 
of falling water and the fitful power of blowing wind. The 
only ready force had been the vital energy of man and beast. 
Now at last the weary hum of the hand-spindle and the pound- 
ing of the hand-loom could cease. Nature bent her willing 
neck to the yoke, and the economic production of our race 
took a leap forward as when a car has been pushed forward 
by hand on the level, and now grips the cable and rushes up 
a steep incline. If some angel with prophetic foresight had 
witnessed that epoch, would he not have winged his way 
back to heaven to tell God that human suffering was drawing 
to its end? 

Instead of that a long-drawn wail of misery followed ' 
wherever the power-machine came. It swept the bread from 
men's tables and the pride from their hearts. 

Hitherto each master of a handicraft, with his family and 
a few apprentices and journeymen about him, had plied his 
trade in his home, owner of his simple tools and master of his 
profits. His workmen ate at his table, married his daughters, 

1 See Arnold Toynbee, "The Industrial Revolution in England " For 9 
popular summary see R. T. Ely, "Outlines of Economics," Chaps, I-IX. 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 21$ 

and hoped to become masters themselves when their time 
of education was over. He worked for customers whom he 
knew, and honest work was good policy. He supplied a 
definite demand. The rules of his guild and the laws of his 
city barred out alien or reckless competition which would 
undermine his trade. So men lived simply and rudely. 
They had no hope of millions to lure them, nor the fear of 
poverty to haunt them. They lacked many of the luxuries 
accessible even to the poor to-day, but they had a large 
degree of security, independence, and hope. And man liveth 
not by cake alone. 1 

Then arrived the power-machine, and the old economic 
world tottered and fell like San Francisco in 1906. The 
machine was too expensive to be set up in the old home 
workshops and owned by every master. If the guilds had 
been wise enough to purchase and operate machinery in 
common, they might have effected a cooperative organization 
of industry in which all could have shared the increased 
profits of machine production. As it was, the wealthy and 
enterprising and ruthless seized the new opening, turned out 
a rapid flow of products, and of necessity underbid the others 
in marketing their goods. The old customs and regula- 
tions which had forbidden or limited free competition were 
brushed away. New economic theories were developed 
which sanctioned what was going on and secured the sup- 
port of public opinion and legislation for those who were 
driving the machine through the framework of the social 
structure. 

The distress of the displaced workers was terrible. In 

1 See Thorold Rogers, " Six Centuries of Work and Wages" ; L. Brentanq 
"On the History and Development of Guilds." 



2 It) CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

blind agony they mobbed the factories and destroyed the 
machines which were destroying them. But the men who 
owned the machines, owned the law. In England the death 
penalty was put on the destruction of machinery. Sullenly 
the old masters had to bow their necks to the yoke. They 
had to leave their own shops and their old independence and 
come to the machine for work and bread. They had been 
masters; henceforth they had a master. The former com- 
panionship of master and workmen, working together in 
the little shops, was gone. Two classes were created and a 
wide gulf separated them : on the one hand the employer, 
whose hands were white and whose power was great ; on the 
other the wage-earner, who lived in a cottage and could only 
in rare and lessening instances hope to own a great shop with 
its costly machinery. 1 

This disintegration of the old economic life has slowly 
spread, reaching one trade after the other, one nation after 
the other. To-day it is working its way in Russia and India. 
Longfellow, in his "Village Blacksmith," has described a 
master of the old kind. "The smith, a mighty man was he, 
with strong and sinewy hands." To-day one son of the smith 
is nailing machine-made horseshoes on with machine-made 
nails, and repairing the iron-work of farmers which is wrought 
elsewhere. The other sons have gone into town and are 
factory hands. One worked in the fluff-filled air of a cotton 
mill and slept in a dark bedroom. He died of consumption. 

Thus went the old independence and the approximate 
equality of the old life. The old security disappeared, too. 
A man could not even be sure of the bare wages which he 
received for his toil. The machine worked with such head- 

1 F. Engels, " Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844." 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 21 7 

long speed that it glutted the market with its goods and 
stopped its own wheels with the mass of its own output. 
Periodical prostrations of industry began with speculative 
production, and a new kind of famine became familiar, 
the famine for work. 

The machine required deftness rather than strength. The 
slender fingers of women and children sufficed for it, and they 
were cheaper than men. So men were forced out of work by 
the competition of their own wives and children, and saw their 
loved ones wilt and die under the relentless drag of the 
machine. The saying that "a man's foes shall be they of 
his own household," received a new application. 

Under the old methods industry could be scattered over the, 
country. The machine now compelled population to settle 
about it. It was the creator of the modern city. It piled the 
poor together in crowded tenements at night and in unsanitary 
factories during the day, and intensified all the diseases that 
come through crowding. Poverty leaped forward simulta* 
neously with wealth. From 1760 to 1818 the population 
of England increased seventy per cent; the poor relief in- 
creased five hundred thirty per cent. 

Here, then, we have the incredible paradox of modern life. 
The instrument by which all humanity could rise from want 
and the fear of want actually submerged a large part of the 
people in perpetual want and fear. When wealth was 
multiplying beyond all human precedent, an immense body 
of pauperism with all its allied misery was growing up and 
becoming chronic. England was foremost in the introduc- 
tion of machine industry, and the first half of the nineteenth 
century was one of the darkest times in the economic history 
of England. While the nation was attaining unparalleled 



2l8 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

wealth and power, many of its people were horribly destitute 
and degraded. It is hardly likely that any social revolu- 
tion, by which hereafter capitalism may be overthrown, will 
cause more injustice, more physical suffering, and more 
heartache than the industrial revolution by which capitalism 
rose to power. 

That such an evil turn could be given to an event that held, 
such a power for good, is a crushing demonstration that the 
moral forces in humanity failed to keep pace with its intel- 
lectual and economic development. Men learned to make 
wealth much faster than they learned to distribute it justly. 
Their eye for profit was keener than their ear for the voice of 
God and humanity. That is the great sin of modern hu- 
manity, and unless we repent, we shall perish by that sin. 
But the first call to repentance comes to all those who have had 
this defective moral insight of humanity under their training, 
and whose duty it was to give a voice to the instincts of 
righteousness and brotherhood. 

The first dire effects of the industrial revolution have been 
greatly mitigated in European countries: partly by the 
defensive organization of the workers; partly by the inter- 
position of the State ; partly by the awakened conscience of 
the people ; and chiefly by the fear of the Social Democracy. 
In our own country the machine in the past wrought no such 
harm. Our industries were in their infancy when the ma- 
chine arrived, and there was no old economic structure for it 
to destroy. Our people were an emigrant folk, less rooted in 
the ancestral soil than any other nation, and have been ready 
and able to seek employment elsewhere when economic 
readjustments broke up their old employment. What 
Kipling calls the "hideous versatility" of Americans, which is 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 2IQ 

a result of life in a new country, has made it easy to turn 
from one trade to another, or to learn the work with a new 
machine. Above all, our free and cheap land has been a 
constant outlet for labor, and long kept labor scarce and 
wages high. 

But there is nothing in the nature of our country that will 
permanently exempt us from the social misery created by the 
industrial revolution elsewhere. Popular orators have often 
asscued that the conditions of the effete monarchies could 
never come to a people with free institutions like ours. De- 
velopments in recent years have given them the lie. Capital- 
ism is no respecter of governments; it will flourish in a 
republic as well as in a monarchy perhaps better. The 
people cannot cat the ballot. It will serve them only if they 
arc wise and strong enough to use it as a shield for their own 
defence and as a sword against the enemies of the republic. 
The influences which formerly protected us and gave us a cer- 
tain immunity from social misery are losing their force. We 
are now running the rapids faster than any other nation. We 
do everything more strenuously and recklessly than others. 
Our machinery is speeded faster; our capital centralizes 
faster; we use up human life more carelessly; we are less 
hampered by custom and prejudice. If we are once headed 
toward a social catastrophe, we shall get there ahead of 
schedule time. No preventives against the formation of 
social classes written in a paper constitution can long save 
us from the iron wedge which capitalism drives through 
society. The existence of at least two distinct classes is in-* 
herent in the nature of capitalistic organization of industry, 
and essential to its very existence. Gustav Schmoller, the 
eminent professor of political economy at Berlin, says in his 



220 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

great work, "All experts agree that no country has such a 
plutocracy as the United States." 1 

The purpose of this chapter is to bring the present situa* 
tion before us with a few rapid strokes in order to create a 
realizing sense of the present crisis. The main concern of the 
discussion will be with the moral element contained in the 
condition of society and in its drifts. In former chapters I 
have shown that the moral power generated by the Christian 
religion is available for the task of social regeneration. I 
wish here to show that it is needed, fully and immediately, if 
our Christian civilization is to stand and advance. 

In the nature of the case the discussion will be a critique 
of present conditions. It will have to dwell on the ad- 
verse symptoms, like the diagnosis of a physician. If he is 
dealing with the breakdown of the digestive or nervous 
apparatus, he may fail to mention that the bones are all 
sound and that the patient has a splendid head of hair. 
Personally I am not a despiser of my age and its achieve- 
ments. There is no other age in which I should prefer to 
have lived. The very fact that we can feel our social wrongs 
so keenly and discuss them calmly and without fear of social 
hatred, is one of the highest tributes to be paid to our age. 
My appeal is made hopefully to the educated reason and the 
moral insight of modern Christian men. 

rhe land Next to life itself the greatest gift of God to man is the land 
md the f rom w hich all life is nourished. The character of a nation 

people. 

cannot be understood apart from the country and climate in 
which it lives. The social prosperity, the morality, the rise 01 

1 G. Schmdler, "Grundriss der allgememen Volkswirtschaftslehie," H 
453- 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 221 

decline of a people, always fundamentally depend on the wis- 
dom and justice with which the land is distributed and used. 

In our country the land in its vastness and abundance, its- 
variety and wealth, has been one of the most sanitary in- 
fluences in our national life. The mass of independent 
farmers have been and still are the moral backbone of our 
nation. The "embattled farmers " won our independence and 
formed the incomparable armies of our Civil War on both 
sides, just as the marvellous army of Cromwell was com- 
posed of the sons of English yeomen. It was our land, fully 
as much as our institutions, which absorbed and assimilated 
the mass of our immigrants in the past, and formed an 
automatic safety-valve for the overheated machine of our 
commercial and political life. 

Our system has been to distribute our farming land in 
severalty as the private property of the family which tilled it. 
This system has doubtless been of great use in the rapid set- 
tlement of our country. It has offered the individual every 
incentive to improve his land to the utmost, since it belonged 
absolutely to him and his descendants. It is often asserted 
that the secret of our prosperity lies in this private ownership 
of land in contrast to the land communism prevailing, for 
instance, in the Russian village community. It is overlooked 
that our method of assigning homestead claims from the 
public lands has in fact been a kind of gigantic communism 
in land. 

Nearly all ancient communities with which we have his- 
toric connection recognized that the community is the real 
owner of the land. 1 In the old English village the woodland 

1 See the great works of Sir Henry Maine, "Village Communities in the 
East and West" and "Early History of Institutions " 



222 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

and pasture were common to all. 1 The meadow-land was 
divided only till the hay-harvest was over and then was com- 
mon once more. Only the plough-land was permanently 
divided, but subject to fresh division as new claimants were 
admitted to the commune. Only those entitled to a share 
in the common land were citizens with full political rights. 
This institution is one of the marks of the Aryan race and 
underlay the freedom and virility of the people. It was dis- 
turbed and destroyed by the same influences which sapped 
the primitive self-government of the people. Large remnants 
of it persisted down to our day in Europe. Previous to the 
industrial revolution vast tracts of common land still existed 
in England. The poor man could build on it free of rent 
and could till patches of it and pasture his sheep or geese. 
In our own law the principle that the land is the property of 
the community a principle which has all good sense and 
political philosophy on its side is still embodied in the 
"right of eminent domain." The State can condemn private 
property for public uses, because the community has a latent 
and superior right in the land which may at any time super- 
sede the inferior right of the individual. 

But in general our law treats land as private property. 
This institution is of comparatively recent origin. 2 It is due 
mainly to the influence of Roman law. Rome, too, in the 
early days of its strength had communal ownership. The 
herds were pastured on the ager puUicus. If new land was 
conquered, the younger sons got their allotment there. But 
gradually the wealthy families crowded out the plebs rustica. 
They took the lion's share of land conquered. They turned 

1 F. Seetx>hm, 'The English Village Community " 
* E. de Laveleye, "De la proprie*tf " 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 223 

their great herds into the common pasturage. They used 
their political power to suppress the popular demands for a 
redivision of land and for a maximum limit of landed wealth. 
Gradually they established ownership in severalty and forti- 
fied it by law. Then they sucked up the small estates and 
undermined the sturdy peasantry of Italy which had made 
Rome great. Six persons at one time owned the whole 
province of Africa. The great historian of Rome sums up 
the pernicious effects of this system in the terse sentence, 
Latifundia perdidere Romam, " the great estates have ruined 
Rome." 

Thib system, which was the result of the ruthless displace- 
ment of public rights by the strong and one chief cause for 
the decay of Rome, was, of course, embodied in Roman law. 
That body of law was the product of a refined civilization, 
and in precision and subtlety was far superior to anything 
the mediaeval nations could produce. For this reason, and 
because it always magnified the powers of the ruling class, 
it was profoundly influential in the later development of law. 
Thus the conception of property rights which had helped 
to kill the Empire passed to other peoples and everywhere 
strengthened the hands of the strong and limited the com- 
munal rights over the land. It was as if a rug of exquisite 
weave had been taken from some village devastated by 
cholera and had been carried with its deadly infection to 
another city. 

Our national homestead system was like the old village 
commune in allotting to every one who asked for it in good 
faith a sufficient portion of land for the support of his family. 
The land set aside for the support of the public schools and 
the fund accruing from the sale of public lands were further 



224 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISlb 

communistic features. The salutary element in our 
was not so much that the owner owned his land so abso 
lutely, but that the land was so evenly distributed among 
the people and was so accessible to all who were able to use 
it. 

But now that our free lands are almost exhausted, we have 
come to the point where the element of injustice in the system 
will begin to menace us. The first comers are well placed ; 
but how about those who press up hungry through our ports 
and through the gates of birth? They will have the bitter 
cry of Esau when the blessing had been given to Jacob and 
nothing was left for him. Those who have the soil, have 
that and their bodies to work it. Those who have no soil, 
have only their bodies, and they must work for the others 
to get bread. They are the disinherited children of our' 
nation. Of course in practice many who now own land 
will lose it, and many who now have none will secure it. 
But the land henceforth belongs to a limited number, not 
merely for use, but for complete possession, and the ever 
increasing remnant will have no right in it, nor income from 
it. What God gave for the support of all, will be the special 
privilege of some. Farm-land will more and more come to 
have a monopoly value. As land grows dear, it will become 
harder for a young man without capital to secure his first 
foothold. He will have to mortgage himself heavily or be- 
come a tenant. There will be two layers of population draw-, 
ing their living from the land, those who own the land and 
those who till it. Our farmers will become peasants. Their 
prosperity, their hopefulness and moral vigor, will decline, 
and therewith the moral strength of our nation will be in- 
definitely diminished. As the monopoly value of farm-land 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 225 

increases, it will be a more profitable form of investment 
for the huge industrial capital anxiously seeking investment. 
Our rich men will become large owners of agricultural lands. 
In time we shall have three layers of population on the land, 
as in England and Eastern Germany, the great proprietor, 
the tenant farmer, and the agricultural laborer, and that 
means poverty and ignorance in the country. 

This may seem a far-fetched fear to some, just as thirty 
years ago it seemed an idle fear that our great corporations 
might come to shackle our political democracy But com- 
mon sense and the experience of other nations teach a lesson 
plain enough to all except that not infrequent class which 
will learn only in the dear school of experience. Already 
thousands of our best young farmers are passing over our 
northwestern boundary to Canada to escape the conditions. 
If they have the choice between cheap land and loyalty to 
their country, they choose the cheap land. Already the cur- 
rent of immigration, which no longer finds a ready outlet to 
the land, is choking our great cities. Already the industrial 
laboring class is gasping under an increased pressure because 
the automatic outlet of the workers to the land is being 
stopped. Yet we are only at the beginning of things. The 
situation clamors for sufficient moral foresight to avoid the 
fate of Italy, Spain, or Ireland. The farmers ever cling with 
the grip of desperation to the land, like an unweaned child 
to its mother's breast. But when they have once been forced 
from it into the city, it is exceedingly hard to plant them on 
the soil once more. An agricultural population is hard to 
recreate. Yet without a sound agricultural population a 
nation declines in economic ability and in moral resourceful- 
ness. 



226 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

In the matter of ordinary agricultural land the monopo- 
listic element inhering in private ownership has not yet made 
itself felt. But throughout our country those locations which 
give the access to special opportunities are rapidly being 
absorbed. The most beautiful locations along our seashore 
and on our lakes and rivers are bought up, and the people 
are fenced out from natural beauty and pleasure. The water 
rights on which great cities depend for life have to be jealously 
guarded against hands itching to get at them. The franchises 
by which the transportation of men, of freight, of gas, of 
electricity, is made possible, all rest on the grant of excep- 
tional land rights. The anthracite mines are a striking 
demonstration of the effect of giving public rights into the 
absolute ownership of individuals or corporations. The coal 
stored in the cellar of our great American tenement was in- 
tended by its builder for the use of all. A few vigorous boys 
have secured the key to the cellar on the understanding that 
they would fetch the coal up for the rest. But they now 
claim that the entire supply is their own, and charge the 
tenants not only for the service of hoisting it up, but for the 
coal itself. They are using the key not only to get coal out, 
but to keep it in. 

The most glaring evils of our land system are found in our 
cities. City land represents an opportunity to live and to 
make a living. Its value is created by the community that 
throngs over and around it. The more wealthy and moral 
the neighborhood, the more valuable the land. The value 
of an empty city lot is wholly a social product ; the value of 
an improved lot is partly a social and partly a personal prod- 
uct. Moreover, additional value is created by the pressure 
of want. The more numerous the people, the greater the 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 22? 

need of a place on which to live and breathe. Space is as 
much a necessity of life as air and water. People may perish 
for the lack of it. Hence they will pay heavily for the use 
of it. Thus the community, both by its labors and by its 
needs, creates an increasing value for city land. But our* 
laws give this social product away to individuals. This en- 
courages speculation in land. Men buy up land with the 
hope that its value will increase without their labor. If their 
foiecast proves false, they suffer impoverishment or bank- 
ruptcy. If it proves correct, they have an unearned gain, 
like a shrewd card-player. In either case the process is 
demoralizing for the speculator. 

It is far worse for the people. The naturally high price 
of city land is further enhanced by the artificial pressure of 
speculation. Around all our cities lies a ring of unused land 
held with the hope of a rise. The growing population either 
has to pay the price demanded, or crowd closer inside of the 
ring, or use its money and its precious time in travelling daily 
beyond the ring. If the city enjoys a rapid growth, rents and 
land prices rise, the landowners absorb a large part of the 
increase in wealth, and the boom is choked. The crowding 
of the cities increases the expenses for fire protection, police, 
and sanitation. It is responsible for many of the most 
deadly diseases, especially tuberculosis. It is also responsible 
for the moral deterioration accompanying the tenement house 
and the street life of the cities The ramifications of these 
demoralizing effects are almost endless. 

A boy dug a lot of angleworms and kept them in a small 
amount of earth in a tin can. After some days he returned 
to the neglected worms and found that most of them had 
died in their crowding, a few still lived limp and discolored, 



228 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

and maggots infested the rotting mass. Here were organismi 
taken out of their natural surroundings, in which they would 
have maintained their cleanliness and health, and crowded to 
their death. The parable is plain. 

The values thus created by society and absorbed by indi- 
viduals are enormous. An eminent and very conservative 
economist * estimates that the unearned increment in Berlin 
during the last fifty years certainly amounted to $500,000,000 
or $750,000,000. Rental values in London increased in 1871- 
1891 from 24,000,000 pounds to almost 40,000,000, and about 
7,150,000 pounds of this was unearned increase. The total 
of this for twenty years would be equal to the entire esti- 
mated wealth of Germany. Owing to the immense growth 
of our country, and the still more immense growth of our 
cities, this process has gone on faster in the United States 
than anywhere else. Successful land speculation has formed 
the nucleus of very many of our large fortunes. Our cities 
are poor, unclean, always pressing against the limits of in- 
debtedness, and laying heavy burdens of taxation on the 
producing classes. At the same time these enormous values 
pass to individuals who have only contributed a fractional 
part to their creation. 

There is a deep-rooted injustice here which must impress 
any one who reflects upon it and whose judgment is not 
clouded by profit derived from the system. This does not, 
however, imply that those who profit by it are morally guilty. 
They may or may not be. Few as yet recognize any wrong 
in it. Law and custom sanction it. Even those who see 
the wrong are scarcely able to withdraw from it. They, too, 
need land to accomplish anything and must hold it in the 

1 Schmoller, " Grundriss der allgemeinen Volkswirtschaftslehre," II 450. 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 22Q 

established ways. But poison is poison, even if it is sup- 
posed to be a necessary food or drink. Slavery once had the 
sanction of human and divine law. It may be that the day 
will come when any one claiming exclusive property right in 
land will be asked, like the slaveholder in Vermont, to "show 
a bill of sale signed by the Almighty." 

The moral problem to be solved by us is how to safeguard 
the rights of the individual holder of the land who has in- 
creased its value by his labor and intelligence, and yet to 
extract for the community the value which the community 
creates. The latter right is now obscured and disregarded, 
and many of the most destructive and menacing evils of our 
civilization are directly or indirectly traceable to this legalized 
method of disinheriting the community. 1 

From an economic point of view all human history has 
turned on the possession of the land and its privileges. The 
conflicts of nation with nation have been like contests of herds 
for grazing ground. The conflicts of class with class have 
been struggles for equal rights on the grazing ground. While 
agriculture was the chief source of wealth, the burning social 
question was how to counteract the tendency toward the ag- 
gregation of land in a few hands. The intense social struggles 
of the Greek republics turned largely on the redistribution of 
the communal land. Where approximate equality was main- 
tained, political liberty and efficiency continued. The con- 
trary meant a decay of liberty and intelligence in the mass 
of the people, and finally death. Political power was always 
desired and used to secure special control over the natural 

The brilliant books of Henry George, "Progress and Poverty" and 
"Social Problems," are still worth reading. In his main contentions he has 
never been answered. 



230 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

resources. Land robbery on a large scale has been the sin 
of the mighty. In 1904 the Czar gave command to add cer- 
tain state forests to his private possessions. They were 
valued at a hundred million rubles. He paid three hundred 
thousand. 1 The church and monastery lands which were 
"secularized" during the Reformation were the property of 
the people, held in trust by the Church. If they had been 
devoted to other public service, they might have endowed a 
wonderful system of education or freed Germany and England 
forever from the need of paying taxes. Instead they were 
seized by the possessing classes. In Germany they strength- 
ened despotic power. In England they laid the foundation 
for the wealth of the great aristocratic families to this day. 
No nation can allow its natural sources of wealth to be owned 
by a limited and diminishing class without suffering politi- 
cal enslavement and poverty. Our system tends that way. 
"The abolition of private property in land in the interest 
of society is a necessity." 2 

Work and In the agricultural stage of society the chief means of en- 
wages< richment was to gain control of large landed wealth; the 
chief danger to the people lay in losing control of the great 
agricultural means of production, the land. Since the in- 
dustrial revolution the man-made machinery of production 
has assumed an importance formerly unknown. The fac- 
tories, the machines, the means of transportation, the money 
to finance great undertakings, are fully as important in the 
modern process of production as the land from which the 

1 The Outlook, March 19, 1904, p 692. 

1 Rodbertus and Adolf Wagner in their edition of "Rau's Lehrbuch del 
Nationalbkonomie " 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 23! 

raw material is drawn. Consequently the chief way to en- 
richment in an industrial community will be the control of 
these factors of production; the chief danger to the people 
will be to lose control of the instruments of industry. 

That danger, as we saw in our brief sketch of the industrial 
revolution, was immediately realized in the most sweeping 
measure. The people lost control of the tools of industry 
more completely than they ever lost control of the land. 
Under the old system the workman owned the simple tools 
of his trade. To-day the working people have no part nor 
lot in the machines with which they work. In capitalistic 
production there is a cooperation between two distinct groups : 
a small group which owns all the material factors of land and 
machinery; a large group which owns nothing but the per- 
sonal factor of human labor power. In this process of co- 
operation the propertyless group is at a fearful disadvantage. 

No attempt is made to allot to each workman his share in 
the profits of the joint work Instead he is paid a fixed wage. 
The upward movement of this wage is limited by the pro- 
ductiveness of his work; the downward movement of it is 
limited only by the willingness of the workman to work at 
so low a return. His willingness will be determined by his 
needs. If he is poor or if he has a large family, he can be 
induced to take less. If he is devoted to his family, and if 
they are sick, he may take still less. The less he needs, the 
more he can get ; the more he needs, the less he will get. 
This is the exact opposite of the principle that prevails in 
family life, where the child that needs most care gets most. 
In our family life we have solidarity and happiness ; in our 
business life we have individualism and well, not exactly 
happiness. 



232 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

The statistics of wages come with a shock to any one read- 
ing them with an active imagination. In my city of Roches- 
ter the average wage for males over sixteen reported by the 
United States Census of 1900 was $480.50 a year and for 
females $267.10. I do not know how accurate that was. It 
hardly matters. Fifty dollars one way or the other would 
mean a great deal to the families affected, but it would not 
change the total impression of pitiable inadequacy. 

But the real wages are not measured by dollars and cents, 
but by the purchasing power of the money. That the neces- 
saries of life have risen in price in recent years is familiar 
enough to every housekeeper. Wages, too, have risen in some 
trades. Very earnest efforts have been made by experts to 
prove that the lise in wages has kept pace with the rise in 
prices, but with dubious results. Dun's Review some time 
ago compared the prices of 350 staple commodities in July i, 
1897, and December i, 1901, and found that $1013 in 1901 
would buy no more than $724 in 1897. Hence if wages had 
remained apparently stationary, they had actually declined. 

The purchasing power of the wages determines the health 
and comfort of the workingman and his family. It does 
not decide on the justice of his wage. That is determined 
by comparing the total product of his work with the share 
paid to him. The effectiveness of labor has increased im- 
mensely since the advent of the machine. The wealth of 
the industrial nations consequently has grown in a degree 
unparalleled in history. The laborer has doubtless profited 
by this in common with all others. He enjoys luxuries that 
were beyond the reach of the richest in former times. But the 
justice of our system will be proved only if we can show that 
the wealth, comfort, and security of the average workingman 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 233 

in 1906 is as much greater than that of the average working- 
man in 1760 as the wealth of civilized humanity is now 
greater than it was in 1760. No one will be bold enough 
to assert it. The bulk of the increase in wealth has gone to 
a limited class who in various ways have been strong enough 
to take it. Wages have advanced on foot ; profits have taken 
the Limited Express. For instance, the report of the Inter- 
state Commerce Commission of June, 1902, stated that from 
1896-1902 the average wages and salaries of the railway em- 
ployees of our country, 1,200,000 men, had increased from 
$550 to $580, or five per cent. During the same period the net 
earnings of the owners had increased from $377,000,000 to 
$610,000,000, or sixty-two per cent. Thorold Rogers, in his 
great work "Six Centuries of Work and Wages," says: "It 
may well be the case, and there is every reason to fear it is the 
case, that there is collected a population in our great towns 
which equals in amount the whole of those who lived in Eng- 
land and Wales six centuries ago ; but whose condition is more 
destitute, whose homes are more squalid, whose means are 
more uncertain, whose prospects are more hopeless, than those 
of the peasant serfs of the Middle Ages or the meanest drudges 
of the mediaeval cities." If the celebrated saying of John 
Stuart Mill is true, that "it is questionable if all the mechanical 
inventions yet made have lightened the day's toil of any human 
being," it means that the achievements of the human mind 
have been thwarted by human injustice. Our blessings have 
failed to bless us because they were not based on justice and 
solidarity. 

The existence of a large class of population without property 
Bights in the material they work upon and the tools they 



234 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

The morale wor ^ ^th, and without claim to the profits resulting from 
of the theft work, must have subtle and far-reaching effects on the 

workers. 

character of this class and on the moral tone of the people at 
large. 1 

A man's work is not only the price he pays for the right 
to fill his stomach. In his work he expresses himself. It 
is the output of his creative energy and his main contribu- 
tion to the common life of mankind. The pride which 
an artist or professional man takes in his work, the pleas- 
ure which a housewife takes in adorning her home, afford 
a satisfaction that ranks next to human love in delightsome- 
ness. 

One of the gravest accusations against our industrial 
system is that it does not produce in the common man the 
pride and joy of good work. In many cases the surround- 
ings are ugly, depressing, and coarsening. Much of the stuff 
manufactured is dishonest in quality, made to sell and not 
to serve, and the making of such cotton or wooden lies must 
react on the morals of every man that handles them There 
is little opportunity for a man to put his personal stamp on 
his work. The mediaeval craftsman could rise to be an 
artist by working well at his craft. The modern factory 
hand is not likely to develop artistic gifts as he tends his 
machine. 

It is a common and true complaint of employers that their 
men take no interest in their work. But why should they? 
What motive have they for putting love and care into their 
work? It is not theirs. Christ spoke of the difference be- 
tween the hireling shepherd who flees and the owner who 

^e the admirable book by John Graham Brooks, "The Social 
Unrest." 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 235 

loves the sheep. Our system has made the immense majority 
of industrial workers mere hirelings. If they do conscientious 
work nevertheless, it is a splendid tribute to human rectitude. 
Slavery was cheap labor , it was also dear labor. In ancient 
Rome the slaves on the country estates were so wasteful that 
only the strongest and crudest tools could be given them. 
The more the wage worker approaches their condition, the 
more will the employer confront the same problem. The 
finest work is done only by free minds who put love into their 
work because it is their own. When a workman becomes a 
partner, he " hustles" in a new spirit. Even the small bonus 
distributed in profit-sharing experiments has been found to 
increase the carefulness and willingness of the men to such 
an extent that the bonus did not diminish the profits of the 
emphners. The lowest motives for work are the desire for 
wages and the fear of losing them. Yet these are almost 
the only motives to which our system appeals. It does not 
even hold out the hope of promotion, unless a man unites 
managing ability to his workmanship. The economic loss to 
the community by this paralysis of the finer springs of human 
action is beyond computation. But the moral loss is vastly 
more threatening. 

The fear of losing his job is the workman's chief incentive 
to work. Our entire industrial life, for employer and em- 
ployee, is a reign of fear. The average workingman's family 
is only a few weeks removed from destitution. The dread of 
want is always over them, and that is worse than brief times 
of actual want. It is often said in defence of the wages 
system that while the workman does not share in the hope 
of profit, neither is he troubled by the danger of loss ; he 
gets his wage even if the shop is running at a loss. Not for 



236 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

any length of time. His form of risk is the danger of being 
out of work when work grows slack, and when his job is 
gone, all his resources are gone. In times of depression the 
misery and anxiety among the working people are appalling; 
yet periodical crises hitherto have been an unavoidable ac- 
companiment of our speculative industry. The introduction 
of new machinery, the reorganization of an industry by a 
trust, the speeding of machinery which makes fewer men 
necessary, the competition of cheap immigrant labor, all 
combine to make the hold of the working classes on the 
means of life insecure. That workingmen ever dare to strike 
work is remarkable testimony to the economic pressure that 
impels them and to the capacity of sacrifice for common ends 
among them. 

While a workman is in his prime, he is always in danger of 
losing his job. When he gets older, he is almost certain to 
lose it. The pace is so rapid that only supple limbs can keep 
up. Once out of a job, it is hard for an elderly man to get 
another. Men shave clean to conceal gray hairs. They are no 
longer a crown of honor, but an industrial handicap. A man 
may have put years of his life into a business, but he has no 
claim on it at the end, except the feeble claim of sympathetic 
pity. President Eliot thinks that he has a just but un- 
recognized claim because he has helped to build up the good- 
will of the business. There is a stronger claim in the fact 
that the result of his work has never been paid to him in full. 
If, for instance, a man has produced a net value of $800 
a year and has received $500 a year, $300 annually stand 
to his credit in the sight of God. These dividends with 
compound interest would amount to a tidy sum at the end of 
a term of years and ought to suffice to employ him at his old 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 237 

wages even if his productive capacity declines. 1 But at 
present, unless his employer is able and willing to show him 
charity, or unless by unusual thrift he has managed to save 
something, he becomes dependent on the faithfulness of his 
children or the charity of the public. In England a very 
large proportion of the aged working people finally "go on 
the parish." In Germany they have a socialist system of 
insurance for old age. The fact that so few Germans have 
emigrated in recent years is probably due in part to the hope 
held out by this slight capitalization of their life's labor. We 
are not even thinking of such an institution in America. Fear 
and insecurity weigh upon our people increasingly, and break 
down their nerves, their mental buoyancy, and their character. 
This constant insecurity and fear pervading the entire 
condition of the working people is like a corrosive chemical 
that disintegrates their self-respect. For an old man to be 
able to look about him on the farm or business he has built 
up by the toil of his life, is a profound satisfaction, an antidote 
to the sense of declining strength and gradual failure. For 
an old man after a lifetime of honest work to have nothing, 
to amount to nothing, to be turned off as useless, and to eat 
the bread of dependence, is a pitiable humiliation. I can 
conceive of nothing so crushing to all proper pride as for a 
workingman to be out of work for weeks, offering his work 
and his body and soul at one place after the other, and to be 
told again and again that nobody has any use for such a 
man as he. It is no wonder that men take to drink when 

1 This proportion of wages paid and wages retained is simply assumed 
for the sake of concreteness in the argument The actual proportion, of 
course, will vary with the "profits" of a concern. 



238 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

they axe out of work; for drink, at least for a while, creates 
illusions of contentment and worth. The Recessional of 
Alcohol has the refrain, "Let us forget." Every great strike, 
every industrial crisis, pushes some men over the line of self- 
respect into petty thievery and vagrancy, and over the gate 
to the long road of hoboism is written, "Leave all hope be- 
hind, all ye that enter here." To accept charity is at first 
one of the most bitter experiences of the self-respecting 
workingman. Some abandon their families, go insane or 
commit suicide rather than surrender the virginity of their 
independence. But when they have once learned to depend 
on gifts, the parasitic habit of mind grows on them, and it 
becomes hard to wake them back to self-support. They have 
eaten the food of the lotos-eaters and henceforth "surely, 
surely slumber is more sweet than toil." It would be a theme 
for the psychological analysis of a great novelist to describe 
the slow degradation of the soul when a poor man becomes a 
pauper. During the great industrial crisis in the go's I saw- 
good men go into disreputable lines of employment and re- 
spectable widows consent to live with men who would sup- 
port them and their children. One could hear human virtue 
cracking and crumbling all around. Whenever work is 
scarce, petty crime is plentiful. But that is only the tangible 
expression of the decay in the morale of the working people 
on which statistics can seize. The corresponding decay in 
the morality of the possessing classes at such a time is an- 
other story. But industrial crises are not inevitable in nature; 
they are merely inevitable in capitalism. 

A similar corrosive influence is the hatred generated by 
our system. The employees are often hot with smouldering 
resentment at their treatment by the employers, and the 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 239 

employers are at least warm with annoyance at the organi- 
zations of the men, and full of distrust for the honesty and 
willingness of their helpers. The economic loss to both sides 
in every strike is great enough, but the loss in human fellow- 
ship and kindliness is of far greater moment. It would be 
far better for a community to lose a million dollars by fire 
than to lose it by a strike or lockout. The acts of violence 
committed on both sides, by legalized means on the one, by 
spontaneous brutality on the other, are only the efflorescence 
of the inflamed feeling created. And the acute inflammation 
tends to become chronic. Every animal will fight other ani- 
mals that trench on its feeding grounds. Every social class 
in history has used whatever weapons it had sword, law, 
ostracism, or clerical anathema to strike at any other class 
that endangered its income. Railways use lobbies; their 
employees use clubs; each uses the weapon that is handy 
and effective. But it is all brutalizing and destructive. 
Strikes are mild civil war, and "war is hell." If our in- 
dustrial organization cannot evolve some saner method of 
reconciling conflicting interests than twenty-four thousand 
strikes and lockouts in twenty years, it will be a confession 
of social impotence and moral bankruptcy. 1 

It used to be a fine thing to mark how the richer food and The physi- 
freer life in our country increased the stature and beauty of O f t he C 
the immigrant families. America meant a rise in the standard 
of living, and hence an increase in physical efficiency. The 

1 Professor N. P. Oilman, "Methods of Industrial Peace," computes the 
number of strikes, 1881-1900, at 22,793, and the lockouts at 1005. The 
total number thrown out of work was 6,610,000. The loss to the men was 
$306,683,233, to the employers, $142,659,104. 



340 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

rapid progress of our country has been due to the wealth of 
natural resources on the one side and the physical vigor and 
mental buoyancy of the human resources on the other side. 

To-day there are large portions of the wage-earning popu- 
lation of which that is no longer true. They are not advanc- 
ing, but receding in stamina, and bequeathing an enfeebled 
equipment to the next generation. 1 

The human animal needs space, air, and light, just like any 
other highly developed organism. But the competitive neces- 
sities of industry crowd the people together in the cities. 
Land speculation and higli car-fares hem them in even where 
the location of our cities permits easy expansion. High rents 
mean small rooms. Dear coal means lack of ventilation in 
winter. Coal-smoke means susceptibility to all throat and 
lung diseases. The tenement districts of our great cities are 
miasmatic swamps of bad air, and just as swamps teem with 
fungous growths, so the bacilli of tuberculosis multiply on 
the rotting lungs of the underfed and densely housed multi- 
tudes. The decline in the death-rate with the advance in 
sanitary science, the sudden drop of the rate after the destruc- 
tion and rebuilding of slum districts in English cities, 2 prove 
clearly how preventible a great proportion of deaths are. 
The preventible decimation of the people is social murder. 

The human animal needs good food to be healthy, just 
like a horse or cow. The artificial rise in food prices is at 
the expense of the vital force of the American people. The 
larger our cities, the wider are the areas from which their 
perishable food is drawn and the staler and less nourishing 

1 On this entire section see Robert Hunter, "Poverty " 
8 The reduction in some cases has been from fifty-five to fourteen pe> 
thousand. 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 24! 

will be the food. Canned goods are a sorry substitute for 
fresh food. The ideal housewife can make a palatable and 
nourishing meal from almost anything. But the wives of the 
workingmen have been working girls, and they rarely have 
a chance to learn good housekeeping before they marry. 
Scorching a steak diminishes its nutritive value and the 
appetite of the eater, and both are essential for nutrition. 

Poor food and cramped rooms lower the vitality of the 
people. At the same time the output of vitality demanded 
from them grows ever greater. Life in a city, with the sights 
and sounds, the hurry for trains, the contagious rush, is 
itself a flaring consumer of nervous energy. The work at 
the machine is worse. That tireless worker of steel, driven 
by the stored energy of the sun in forgotten ages, sets the 
pace for the exhausted human organism that feeds it. The 
speeding of machines is greater in America than anywhere 
in the world. Unless the food and housing remain propor- 
tionately better, the American workman is drained faster. 
Immigrants who try to continue the kind of food that kept 
them in vigor at home, collapse under the strain. 

Under such a combination of causes the health of the peo- 
ple inevitably breaks down. Improved medical science has 
counteracted the effects to a large extent, but in spite of all 
modern progress the physical breakdown is apparent in 
many directions. Diseases of the nerves, culminating in 
prostration and insanity ; diseases of the heart through over- 
strain ; diseases of the digestion through poor nutrition, haste 
in mastication, and anxiety ; zymotic diseases due to crowd-, 
ing and dirt all these things multiply and laugh at our 
curative efforts. Tuberculosis, which might be eradicated in 
ten years if we had sense, continues to cripple our children, 

R 



242 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

to snuff out the life of our young men and women in theh 
prime, and to leave the fatherless and motherless to struggle 
along in their feebleness. Alcoholism is both a cause and an 
effect of poverty. The poor take to drink because they are 
tired, discouraged, and flabby of will, and without more 
wholesome recreation. When the narcotic has once gained 
control over them, it works more rapidly with them than 
with the well fed who work in the open. Tuberculosis and 
alcoholism are social diseases, degenerating the stock of the 
people, fostered by the commercial interests of landowners 
and liquor dealers, thriving on the weak and creating the 
weak. 

This condition of exhaustion tends to perpetuate itself. 
Children are begotten in a state of physical exhaustion. 
Underfed and overworked women in tenement and factory 
are nourishing the children in their prenatal life. During 
the years when a workingman's family is bringing up young 
children, before their earnings become available, the family 
is submerged in poverty through these parental burdens, and 
neither the parents nor the growing children are likely to be 
well fed and well housed. Very early in life the children are 
hitched to the machine for life, and the vitality which ought 
to build their bodies during the crucial period of adolescence 
is used up to make goods a little cheaper, or, what is more 
likely, merely to make profits a little larger. Imagine that 
any breeder of live stock should breed horses or cows under 
such conditions, what would be the result in a few genera- 
tions? Our apple orchards are planted in wide squares, so 
that every tree has the soil, the air, the sunshine, which it 
needs. If we planted a dense jungle of trees, we should have 
a dwarfed growth, scraggy and thorny, and only here and 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 243 

there a crabbed apple. What harvest of human kind will 
we have in the broad field of our republic if we plant men in 
that way? 

The physical drain of which we have spoken is gradual and 
slow, and therefore escapes observation and sympathy. But " 
it is the lot of the working people in addition to this to suffer 
frequent mangling and mutilation. A workman who tends 
one of our great machines is pitted against a monster of blind 
and crushing strength and has to be ever alert, like one who 
enters a cage of tigers. Yet human nature is so constituted 
that it grows careless of danger which is always near, and 
cheerfully plucks the beard of death. Unless the machines 
are surrounded with proper safeguards, they take a large toll 
of life and limb. The state accident insurance system in 
Germany has revealed a terrible frequency of industrial acci- 
dents. We have never yet dared to get the facts for our 
country, except in mining and railroading ; but it is safe to 
say that no country is so reckless of accidents as our own. 
It is asserted that one in eight of our people dies a violent 
death. The Interstate Commerce Commission in October, 
1904, stated that 78,152 persons had been killed on the rail- 
roads in the previous ten years, and 78,247 had been injured 
in the single preceding year. Any one who has ever been 
through a railway accident knows what a horrible total of 
bloody and groaning suffering these figures imply. Yet 
few railways voluntarily introduced automatic car-couplers to 
lessen one of the most frequent causes of accident. They 
resisted legislation as long as they could; introduced the 
automatic couplers as slowly as they could; and are now 
resisting the introduction of the block system in the same 
way. Yet automatic coupling reduced the number of men 



244 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

killed from 433 in 1893 to 167 in 1902, and the number in* 
jured from 11,277 to 2864, in spite of the fact that the total 
number of employees had greatly increased during these ten 
years. The same resistance met the efforts to guard the lives 
of sailors by the Plimsoll mark and indeed almost every 
effort to compel owners to provide safety appliances, or to 
make them liable for accidents to their servants. It is 
dividends against human lives. All great corporations have 
agents whose sole business it is to look after accidents and 
see that the company suffers as little loss as possible through 
the claims of the injured. Yet many are injured in railway 
work and elsewhere because long hours in the service of those 
same corporations had so worn them down that their mind 
was numb and they were unable to look out for themselves. 

I venture to give concreteness to these matters by telling a 
single case which I followed from beginning to end. 

An elderly workingman, a good Christian man, was run 
down by a street car in New York City. Hi? leg was badly 
bruised. He was taken to an excellent hospital near by. 
His wife and daughter visited him immediately. After that 
they had to wait to the regular visiting day. On that day 
they came to me in great distress and said that he had been 
sent forward to Bellevue Hospital. I went with them and 
we found that he had been there only one night, and had 
again been sent on to the Charity Hospital on BlackwelPs 
Island. At both hospitals they said the case was not serious 
and they had shifted him to make room for graver cases. 
The steamer connecting Bellevue and the Island had left on 
its last trip that day. If the two women had been alone, they 
would have been helpless in their anxiety till the next day. 
I got them across. After hours of fear, which almost pros- 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 245 

trated them, we found the old man. He was fairly com- 
fortable and reported that his night at Bellevue had been 
spent on the floor. A few days later gangrene set in ; the leg 
was twice amputated, and he died. I am not competent to say 
if this result was due to neglect or not. I know of other 
cases in which that first hospital shipped charity patients 
elsewhere without giving any notice whatever to the rela- 
tives. 

The agent of the street-car company promptly called on the 
family and offered $100 in settlement of all damages. I saw 
the manager on their behalf. He explained courteously that 
since the case resulted in death, $5000 would be the maximum 
allowed by New York laws, and since the man's earnings 
had been small and he had but few years of earning capacity 
before him, the amount of damage allowed by the courts in 
his case would be slight. The suffering to the affections of 
the family did not enter into the legal aspect of the matter. 
The company paid its counsel by the year. If the family 
sued and was successful in the lower court, the manager 
frankly said they would carry it to the higher courts and could 
wear out the resources of the family at slight expense to the 
corporation. The president, a benevolent and venerable- 
looking gentleman, explained to me that the combined dis- 
tance travelled by their cars daily would reach from New 
York to the Rocky Mountains. People were constantly 
being run over, and the company could not afford to be 
more generous. The widow concluded to submit to the 
terms offered. The $100 was brought to her in the usual 
form of single dollar bills to make it look like vast wealth 
to a poor person. The daughter suffered very serious or- 
ganic injury through the shock received when her father 



246 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

had disappeared from the hospital, and this was probablj 
one cause for her death in child-birth several years later. 

The officers of the hospitals and the officers of the street- 
railway company were not bad men. Their point of view 
and their habits of mind are entirely comprehensible. I feel 
no certainty that I should not act in the same way if I had 
been in their place long enough. But the impression re- 
mained that our social machinery is almost as blindly cruel 
as its steel machinery, and that it runs over the life of a 
poor man with scarcely a quiver. 

There is certainly a great and increasing body of chronic 
wretchedness in our wonderful country. It is greatest where 
our industrial system has worked out its conclusions most 
completely. Our national optimism and conceit ought not 
to blind us longer to the fact. Single cases of unhappiness 
are inevitable in our frail human life ; but when there are 
millions of them, all running along well-defined grooves, 
reducible to certain laws, then this misery is not an indi- 
vidual, but a social matter, due to causes in the structure of 
our society and curable only by social reconstruction. We 
point with pride to the multitude of our charitable organi- 
zations. Our great cities have annual directories of their 
charitable organizations, which state the barest abstract of 
facts and yet make portly volumes. These institutions are 
the pride and the shame of Christian civilization ; the pride 
because we so respond to the cry of suffering ; the shame, be- 
cause so much need exists. They are a heavy financial drag. 
The more humane our feeling is, the better we shall have to 
house our dependents and delinquents. But those who have 
had personal contact with the work, feel that they are beating 
back a swelling tide with feeble hands. With their best in- 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 247 

tentions they may be harming men more than helping them. 
And the misery grows. The incapables increase faster than 
the population. Moreover, beyond the charity cases lies the 
mass of wretchedness that spawns them. For every half- 
witted pauper in the almshouse there may be ten misbe- 
gotten and muddle-headed individuals bungling their work 
and their life outside. For every person who is officially 
declared insane, there are a dozen whose nervous organiza- 
tion is impaired and who are centres of further trouble. For 
every thief in prison there are others outside, pilfering and 
defrauding, and rendering social life insecure and anxious. 
Mr. Hunter l estimates that about four million persons are 
dependent on public relief in the United States ; that an equal 
number are destitute, but bear their misery in silence; and 
that ten million have an income insufficient to maintain them 
even in a state of physical efficiency to do their work. The 
methods by which he arrives at these results seem careful and 
fair. But suppose that he were a million or two out of the 
way, does that affect the moral challenge of the figures much? 
Sir Wilfred Lawson told of a test applied by the head of 
an insane asylum to distinguish the sane from the insane. 
He took them to a basin of water under a running faucet and 
asked them to dip out the water. The insane merely dipped 
and dipped. The sane turned off the faucet and dipped out 
the rest. Is our social order sane? 

Approximate equality is the only enduring foundation of The 
political democracy. The sense of equality is the only basis hequaUt> 
for Christian morality. Healthful human relations seem to 
run only on horizontal lines. Consequently true love always 

1 Robert Hunter, "rovertv," Chap. I. 



248 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

seeks to create a level. If a rich man loves a poor girl, he 
lifts her to financial and social equality with himself. If his 
love has not that equalizing power, it is flawed and becomes 
prostitution. Wherever husbands by social custom regard 
their wives as inferior, there is a deep-seated defect in mar- 
ried life. If a teacher talks down at his pupils, not as a 
maturer friend, but with an "I say so," he confines their 
minds in a spiritual straight-jacket instead of liberating them. 
Equality is the only basis for true educational influences. 
Even our instinct of pity, which is love going out to the 
weak, works with spontaneous strength only toward those 
of our own class and circle who have dropped into misfor- 
tune. Business men feel very differently toward the widow 
of a business man left in poverty than they do toward a 
widow of the poorer classes. People of a lower class who 
demand our help are "cases"; people of our own class are 
folks. 

The demand for equality is often ridiculed as if it implied 
that all men were to be of identical wealth, wisdom, and 
authority. But social equality can coexist with the greatest 
natural differences. There is no more fundamental differ- 
ence than that of sex, nor a greater intellectual chasm than 
that between an educated man and his little child, yet in 
the family all are equal. In a college community there are 
various gradations of rank and authority within the faculty, 
and there is a clearly marked distinction between the students 
and the faculty, but there is social equality. On the other 
hand, the janitor and the peanut vender are outside of the 
circle, however important they may be to it. 

The social equality existing in our country in the past has 
been one of the chief charms of life here and of far more 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 249 

practical importance to our democracy than the universal 
ballot. After a long period of study abroad in my youth I 
realized on my return to America that life here was far poorer 
in music, art, and many forms of enjoyment than life on the 
continent of Europe ; but that life tasted better here, never- 
theless, because men met one another more simply, frankly, 
and wholesomely. In Europe a man is always considering 
just how much deference he must show to those in ranks 
above him, and in turn noting jealously if those below him 
are strewing the right quantity of incense due to his own 
social position. 

That fundamental democracy of social intercourse, which 
is one of the richest endowments of our American life, is 
slipping from us. Actual inequality endangers the sense of 
equality. The rich man and the poor man can meet on a 
level if they are old friends, or if they are men of exceptional 
moral qualities, or if they meet under unusual circumstances 
that reduce all things to their primitive human elements. 
But as a general thing they will live different lives, and the 
sense of unlikencss will affect all their dealings. With women 
the spirit of social caste seems to be even more fatally easy 
than with men. It may be denied that the poor in our coun- 
try are getting poorer, but it cannot well be denied that the 
rich are getting richer. The extremes of wealth and poverty 
are much farther apart than formerly, and thus the poor are 
at least relatively poorer. There is a rich class and a poor 
class, whose manner of life is wedged farther and farther 
apart, and whose boundary lines are becoming ever more 
distinct. The difference in housing, eating, dressing, and 
speaking would be a sufficient barrier. The dominant posi- 
tion of the one class in industry and the dependence of the 



2 $0 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

other is even more decisive. The owners or managers of 
industry are rich or highly paid ; they have technical knowl- 
edge, the will to command, the habits of mind bred by the 
exercise of authority; they say "Go," and men go; they say 
"Do this," and an army of men obeys. On the other side 
is the mass who take orders, who are employed or dismissed 
at a word, who use their muscles almost automatically, and 
who have no voice in the conduct of their own shop. These 
are two distinct classes, and no rhetoric can make them equal. 
Moreover, such a condition is inseparable from the capitalis- 
tic organization of industry. As capitalism grows, it must 
create a proletariat to correspond. Just as militarism is 
based on military obedience, so capitalism is based on 
economic dependence. 

We hear passionate protests against the use of the hateful 
word "class" in America. There are no classes in our coun- 
try, we are told. But the hateful part is not the word, but 
the thing. If class distinctions are growing up here, he 
serves his country ill who would hush up the fact or blind 
the people to it by fine phrases. A class is a body of men who 
are so similar in their work, their duties and privileges, their 
manner of life and enjoyment, that a common interest, com- 
mon conception of life, and common moral ideals are devel- 
oped and cement the individuals. The business men consti- 
tute such a class. The industrial workers also constitute such 
a class. In old countries the upper class gradually adorned 
itself with titles, won special privileges in court and army 
and law, and created an atmosphere of awe and apartness. 
But the solid basis on which this was done was the feudal 
control of the land, which was then the great source of 
wealth. The rest was merely the decorative moss that grows 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 251 

up on the rocks of permanent wealth. With the industrial 
revolution a new source of wealth opened up ; a new set of 
men gained control of it and ousted the old feudal nobility 
more or less thoroughly. The new aristocracy, which is 
based on mobile capital, has not yet had time to festoon itself 
with decorations, but likes to hasten the process by inter- 
marriage with the remnants of the old feudal nobility. 
Whether it will ever duplicate the old forms in this country 
is immaterial, as long as it has the fact of power. In some 
way the social inequality will find increasing outward ex- 
pression and will tend to make itself permanent. Where 
there are actual class differences, there will be a dawning 
class consciousness, a clear class interest, and there may be 
a class struggle. 

In the past the sympathy between the richer and the poorer 
members of American society has still run strong. Many 
rich men and women were once poor and have not forgotten 
their early struggles and the simple homes of their childhood. 
As wealth becomes hereditary, there will be more who have 
never known any life except that of luxury, and have never 
had any associates except the children of the rich or their 
servants. Formerly the wealthiest man in a village or town 
still lived in the sight of all as a member of the community. 
As the chasm widens, the rich withdraw to their own section 
of the city; they naturally use means to screen themselves 
from the intrusive stare of the public which concentrates its 
gaze on them ; they live in a world apart, and the mass of 
the people have distorted ideas about them and little human 
sympathy for them. There are indications enough how far 
apart we already are. We have a, new literature of explora- 
tion. Darkest Africa and the polar regions are becoming 



252 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

familiar; but we now have intrepid men and women who 
plunge for a time into the life of the lower classes and return 
to write books about this unknown race that lives in the 
next block It is amazing to note how intelligent men and 
women of the upper classes bungle in their judgment on the 
virtues and the vices of the working people, and vice versa* 
Socialism is coming to be the very life-breath of the intelli- 
gent \\orking-class, but if all the members of all the social 
and literary clubs of a city were examined on socialism, 
probably two-thirds would fail to pass. Many are still 
content to treat one of the great elemental movements of 
human history as the artificial and transitory misbehavior 
of a few agitators and their dupes The inability of both 
capital and labor to understand the point of Mew of the 
other side has been one chief cause of trouble, and almost 
every honest elTort to get both sides together on a basis of 
equality has acted like a revelation But that proves how 
far they have been apart. 

Individual sympathy and understanding has been our chief 
reliance in the past for overcoming the differences between 
the social classes The feelings and principles implanted by 
Christianity have been a powerful aid in that direction But 
if this sympathy diminishes by the widening of the social 
chasm, what hope have we? It is true that we have an in- 
creasing number who, by study and by personal contact in 
settlement work and otherwise, are trying to increase that 
sympathetic intelligence But it is a question if this con- 
scious effort of individuals is enough to offset the uncon- 
scious alienation created by the dominant facts of life w r hich 
are wedging entire classes apart. 

Facts and institutions are inevitably followed by theories 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 253 

to explain and justify the existing institutions. In a political 
democracy we have democratic theories of politics. In a 
monarchy they have monarchical theories. Wherever in- 
equality has been a permanent situation, theoretical thought 
has defended it. Aristotle living m a slaveholdmg society said : 
"There are m the human species individuals as inferior to 
others as the body is to the soul, or as animals arc to men. 
Adapted to corporeal labor only, they are incapable of a 
higher occupation. Destined by nature to slavery, there is 
nothing better for them to do than lo obey " Similarly in 
feudal society the lord regarded the serf as by nature little 
different from a beast of burden, and even the serf regarded 
oppression as a fixed fact in life, like cold and ram. If we 
allow deep and permanent inequality to grow up m our coun- 
try, it is as sure as gravitation that not only the old democracy 
and frankness of manners will go, but even the theory of 
human equality, which has been part of our spiritual atmos- 
phere through Christianity, will be denied. It is already 
widely challenged. 

Any shifting of the economic equilibrium from one class to The- crum- 
another is sure to be followed by a shifting of the political poKi 
equilibrium. If a class arrives at economic wealth, it will democracy 
gam political influence and some form of representation. For 
instance, when the cities grew powerful at the close of the 
Middle Ages, and the lesser nobles declined in power, that 
fact was registered in the political constitution of the nations. 
The French Revolution was the demand of the business class 
to have a share in political power proportionate to its grow- 
ing economic importance. A class which is economically 
strong will have the necessary influence to secure and 



254 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

enforce laws which protect its economic interests. In turn, 
a class which controls legislation will shape it for its own en- 
richment. Politics is embroidered with patriotic sentiment 
and phrases, but at bottom, consciously or unconsciously, 
the economic interests dominate it always. If therefore we 
have a class which owns a large part of the national wealth 
and controls nearly all the mobile part of it, it is idle to sup- 
pose that this class will not see to it that the vast power exerted 
by the machinery of government serves its interests. And if 
we have another class which is economically dependent and 
helpless, it is idle to suppose that it will be allowed an equal 
voice in swaying political power. In short, we cannot join 
economic inequality and political equality. As Oliver Cromr 
well wrote to Parliament, "If there be any one that makes 
many poor to make a few rich, that suits not a Common- 
wealth " The words of Lincoln find a new application here, 
that the republic cannot be half slave and half free. 

The power of capitalism over the machinery of our govern- 
ment, and its corroding influence on the morality of our public 
servants, has been revealed within recent years to such an 
extent that it is almost superfluous to speak of it. If any one 
had foretold ten years ago the facts which are now under- 
stood by all, he would have been denounced as an incurable 
pessimist. Our cities have surrendered nearly all the func- 
tions that bring an income, keeping only those that demand 
expenditure, and they are now so dominated by the public 
service corporations that it takes a furious spasm of public 
anger, as in Philadelphia, or a long-drawn battle, as in 
Chicago, to drive the robbers from their intrenchments in 
the very citadel of government ; and after the victory is won 
there is absolutely no guarantee that it will be permanent, 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 255 

There is probably not one of our states which is not more or 
less controlled by its chief railways. How far our national 
government is constantly warped in its action, the man at a 
distance can hardly tell, but the public confidence in Congress 
is deeply undermined. Even the successful action against 
the meat-packers and against railway rebates only demon- 
strated what overwhelming popular pressure is necessary to 
compel the government to act against these great interests. 

The interference of President Roosevelt in the great coal 
strike was hailed as a demonstration that the people are still 
supreme. In fact, it rather demonstrated that the supremacy 
of the people is almost gone. The country was on the verge 
of a vast public calamity. A sudden cold snap would have 
sent Death through our Eastern cities, not with his old- 
fashioned scythe, but with a modern reaper. The President 
merely undertook to advise and persuade, and was met with 
an almost insolent rejoinder. Mr. Jacob A. Riis, in his book 
4 'Theodore Roosevelt, the Citizen," says that the President, 
when he concluded to interfere, set his face grimly and said : 
"Yes, I will do it. I suppose that ends me; but it is right, 
and I will do it." The Governor of Massachusetts after- 
ward sent him "the thanks of every man, woman, and child 
in the country " The President replied : "Yes, we have put it 
through. But heavens and earth ! It has been a struggle." 
Mr. Riis says, "It was the nearest I ever knew him to come 
to showing the strain he had been under." Now what sin- 
ister and ghostly power was this with which the President of 
our nation had wrestled on behalf of the people, and which 
was able to loosen even his joints with fear? Whose inter- 
ests were so inviolable that they took precedence of the 
safety of the people, so that a common-sense action by the 



256 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

most august officer of the nation was likely to bring political 
destruction upon him ? To what extent is a power so threat- 
ening able to turn the government aside from its functions 
by silent pressure, so that its fundamental purpose of public 
service is constantly frustrated? Have we a dual sover- 
eignty, so that our public officers are in doubt whom to 
obey? 

Here is another instance showing how political power is 
simply a tool for the interests of the dominant class In 1891 
the Working Women's Society of New York began to agitate 
for proper sanitary accommodations and seats for the female 
clerks in the department stores. This sensible bill was an- 
nually met and defeated at Albany by a lobby of the retail 
merchants. In 1896 it was at last enacted and the right of 
inspection and enforcement was given to the local boards of 
health. For eighteen months it was enforced in New York 
in the most tyrannical manner to make the law odious. The 
Tammany mayor then appointed one of the owners of a great 
department store as president of the Board of Health. This 
man said that he desired the position partly to quash an 
indictment against a certain philanthropic enterprise of his 
and partly to paralyze the Mercantile Inspection Law. The 
mayor suggested that the necessary appropriation be withheld, 
and so the law became a dead letter. 

To secure special concessions and privileges and to evade 
public burdens have always been the objects for which 
dominant classes used their political power. For instance, 
the feudal nobility of France originally held their lands as 
franchises from the crown, in return for a tax of service, 
chiefly military, to be rendered to the nation. When the 
old feudal levies proved inefficient in the Hundred Years 1 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 257 

War with England, a standing army was organized and 
supported by a money tax. The nobility were thereby re- 
lieved from their old obligation of levying and supporting 
soldiers, yet they successfully evaded their share of the tax. 
This is merely a sample case. Ii can safely be asserted that 
throughout history the strongest have been taxed least, and the 
weakest most. The same condition prevails in our country. 
The average homes in the cities are usually taxed to the limit ; 
the most opulent homes, and especially their contents, are 
taxed lightly. Vacant lots, held for speculation, are often 
flagrantly favored, though they are a public nuisance. In 
1856 taxes were paid in New York State on $148,473,154 
worth of personal property over and above the capital of 
banks and trust companies During the following forty 
years the increase in personal property in the State was im- 
mense, yet in 1896 the amount found for taxation had in- 
creased by only $66,000,000. In that year a study was made 
of 107 estates, taken at random in the State of New York and 
ranging from $54,559 to $3,319,500. After the death of the 
owners these estates disclosed personalty aggregating $215- 
132,366 ; but the year before their deaths the owners had been 
assessed only $3,819,412 on their personal property. Thirty- 
four of them had escaped taxation altogether. 1 An investi- 
gation by Professor E W. Bemis in Ohio in 1901 showed that 
while farms and homes were assessed at about sixty per cent 
of their value, railways were assessed at from thirty-five per 
cent down to thirteen per cent of the market value of their 
stocks and bonds. 2 The interests which thus evade taxation 
have usually been enriched by public gifts, by franchises, min- 

1 From an article by Comptroller Roberts, Forum, May, 1897 
1 The Outlook, September 21, 1901, p 150 



CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

ing rights, water rights, the unearned increment of the land> 
etc., and yet they allow the public burdens to settle on the 
backs of those classes who arc already fearfully handi- 
capped. 

The courts are the instrument by which the organized 
community exercises its supremacy over the affairs of the 
individual, and the control of the courts is therefore of vital 
concern to the privileged classes of any nation. Exemption 
from the juusdiction of certain courts which w T ould be 
troublesome, \\as a desirable pn \ilegc-, and both the feudal 
aristocracy and the clergy had that privilege. To a \\ide 
extent the feudal nobles down to our own time had the 
right of jurisdiction within their o\\n domains, and when 
they sat as judges, they were not likely to hurt their 
own interests. The English landowners long made the 
law in Parliament and interpreted it in their courts The 
terrible punishments visited, for instance, on poaching are 
a demonstration how they dealt with offence^ against their 
cherished class rights. In our own country all arc equal 
before the law in theory In practice there is the most 
serious inequality. The right of appeal as handled m our 
country gives tremendous odds to those who have financial 
bta)ing power. The police court, which is the poor man's 
court, deals with him very summarily If a rich man and a 
poor man \\crc alike fined $10 for being drunk and disorderly, 
the equal punishment would be exceedingly unequal. If the 
poor man is unable to pay the fine, he gets ten days; nothing 
likely to be inflicted on the rich man for a similar offence 
would hit him equally hard. 

To what extent the judges are actually corrupt it is probably 
impossible to say We have been trying to keep up our 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 259 

courage amid the general official corruption by asserting that 
the integrity of the judiciary at least is above reproach. But 
the only thing that would make them immune to the general 
disease is the spirit and the tradition of their profession. But 
class spirit and professional honor are a rather fragile barrier 
against the terrible temptations which can be offered by the 
great interests, and when that barrier is once undermined by 
evil example, it will wash away with increasing speed. Re- 
cent revelations have not been calculated to cheer us. The 
judge is frequently a successful politician before he sits on 
the bench Is the sanctifying power of official responsibility 
so great that it will purge out the habits of mind acquired by 
a successful political career, as politics now goes? At any 
rate, it is safe to say that the study and practice of the law 
create an ingrained respect for things as they have been, and 
that the social sympathies of judges are altogether likely to be 
with the educated and possessing classes. This in\\ard trend 
of sympathy is a powerful element in determining a man's 
judgment in single cases. That a man should be tried by a 
]ury of his peers was so important an historical conquest, 
because it recognized the bias of class differences and turned 
it in favor of the accused. Unless a judge is affected by the 
new social spirit, he is likely to be at least unconsciously on 
the side of those who have, and this is equivalent to a special 
privilege granted them by the courts. Connecticut alone, 
among English-speaking countries, has hitherto permitted 
the defendant in damage suits to transfer such suits from a 
jury to a bench of judges When the constitution of Con- 
necticut was revised in 1902, it was proposed to make jury 
trials mandatory in damage suits The active " corporation 
group " in the convention bent its chief interest toward the 



2CO CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

defeat of this proposition. In the experience of corporations 
judges must then be more favorably disposed to them than 
juries. 

The ultimate power on which we stake our hope in out 
present political decay is the power of public opinion When- 
ever some temporary victory has been scored by the people, 
the newspapers triumphantly announce that the people are 
really still sovereign, and that nothing can resist public opinion 
when once aroused. In reality this sheet anchor of our hope 
is as dependable as the wind that blows. It takes strenuous 
efforts to arouse the public. Only spectacular e\Js are likely 
to impress it. When it LS aroused, it is easily turned against 
some side issue or some harmless scapegoat And, like all 
passions, it is very short-lived and sinks back to slumber 
quickly. Despotic governments have always trusted in 
dilatory tactics, knowing well the somnolence of public 
opinion. The same policy is adroitly used by those A\ho 
exploit the people in our country To tins must be added the 
fact that the predatory interests are tampering \\ith the organs 
which create public opinion. If public opinion is indeed so 
great a power, it is not likely that it will bo overlooked by 
those who are so alert against all other sources of danger. It 
will not be denied that some newspapers are directly in the 
pay of certain interests and are their active champions. It 
will not be denied that the counting-room standpoint is 
profoundly influential in the editorial policy of all news- 
papers, and that large advertisers can muzzle most papers if 
they are determined on a policy Not only the editorials are 
affected, but the news matter After the first great election 
in Chicago in iqo2, in which the people by referendum 
decided for municipal ownership of street railways and of 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 261 

the gas and electric lighting plants by an astonishing major- 
ity, the Associated Press despatches and the great New York 
dailies were almost or wholly silent on this significant demon- 
stration of public ownership sentiment. After the presiden- 
tial election of 1892, in which the Populist Party played so 
important a part, 1 was unable to find any figures on their 
vote in the New York dailies The day after the presidential 
election of 1904, in \\lnch the Socialist vote took its first large 
lea,; forward, 1 travelled through several States, but no paper 
which I saw contained the statistics of the Socialist \ote. 
The only fact mentioned \\as that their vote had declined in 
one or two cities When the Mercantile Inspection Bill, to 
A\hich reference uas made above, was before the New York 
legislature, one of the most respectable metropolitan news- 
papers contained frequent articles and interviews opposing 
the bill from the point of \ lew of the department stores. One 
of my friends, who championed the bill, spoke to one of his 
friends on the staff of this paper and asked him m fairness 
to print an interview on the other side. The man replied, 
"Certain]}, that is only fair, I will go and arrange for it." 
He returned and said that absolute orders had come from the 
counting-room that nothing m favor of the bill was to be 
printed. Now the justice and efficiency of democratic gov- 
ernment depend on the intelligence and information of the 
citizens. If they are purposely misled by distorted informa- 
tion or by the suppression of important information, the 
larger jury before which all public causes have to be pleaded 
is tampered with, and the innermost life of our republic is in 
danger. 

In an address before the Nineteenth Century Club in 1904, 
Professor Franklin H. Giddmgs, one of the most eminent 



262 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

sociologists of our country, said : " We are witnessing to-day t 
beyond question, the decay perhaps not permanent, but 
at any rate the decay of republican institutions. No man 
in his right mind can deny it." We have, in fact, one kind of 
constitution on paper, and another system of government in 
fact. That is usually the way when a slow revolution is 
taking place in the distribution of political and economic 
power. The old structure apparently remains intact, but 
actually the seat of power has changed. The Merovingian 
kings remained kings long after all real power had passed 
to the Major Domo and they had become attenuated relics. 
The Senate of Rome and the consuls continued to transact 
business in the time-hallowed way, though they merely 
registered the will of the real sovereign. The president of a 
great university has predicted that we shall have an emperor 
within twenty years. We shall probably never have an 
emperor, but we may have a chairman of some committee or 
other, some person not even mentioned in any constitution or 
law, who will be the de facto emperor of our republic. Names 
are trifles. An emperor by any other name will smell as 
sweet. The chief of the Roman Empire was called Caesar 
or Augustus, which happened to be the names of the men who 
first concentrated power in that form. When the tottering 
Empire rested on military force alone, the prefect of the 
praetorian guard came to be the virtual prime minister, 
uniting the chief judicial and executive functions in his hands. 
The boss in American political life is the extra-constitutional 
ruler simply because he stands for the really dominant pow- 
ers. 

The political life of a nation represents the manner in 
which that nation manages its common affairs. It is not a 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 263 

thing apart from the rest of the national life. It is the direct 
outgrowth of present forces and realities, somewhat modified 
by past traditions, and in turn it intensifies the conditions 
which shape it. The ideal of our government was to dis- 
tribute political rights and powers equally among the citizens. 
But a state of such actual inequality has grown up among the 
citizens that this ideal becomes unworkable. According to 
the careful calculations of Mr. Charles B. Spahr, one per cent 
of the families in our country held more than half of the ag- 
gregate wealth of the country, more than all the rest of the 
nation put together. 1 And that was in 1890. Is it likely 
that this small minority, which is so powerful in possessions, 
will be content with one per cent of the political power where- 
with to protect these possessions? Seven-eighths of the 
families held only one-eighth of the national wealth. Has it 
ever happened in history that such a seven-eighths would per- 
manently be permitted to wield seven-eighths of all political 
power? If we want approximate political equality, we must- 
have approximate economic equality. If we attempt it 
otherwise, we shall be bucking against the law of gravita- 
tion. But when we consider what a long and sore struggle 
it cost to achieve political liberty ; what a splendid destiny a 
true republic planted on this glorious territorial base of ours 
might have ; what a mission of liberty our country might have 
for all the nations it may well fill the heart of every patriot 
with the most poignant grief to think that this liberty may 
perish once more ; that our birthright among the nations may 
be lost to us by our greed ; and that already our country, 
instead of being the great incentive to political democracy in 

1 Charles B. Spahr, "Distribution of Wealth in the United States." See 
also George K. Holmes. Political Science Quarterly, 1893, p. 591. 



264 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

other nations, is a heavy handicap on the democratic move* 
ment, an example to which the opponents of democracy 
abroad point with pleasure and which the lovers of popular 
liberty pass with averted face. 

The tainting Our moral character is wrought out by choosing the right 
atmosphere. w ^ en we are ff erc d the wrong. It is neither possible nor 
desirable to create a condition in which the human soul will 
not have to struggle with temptation. But there are con- 
ditions in which evil is so dominant and its attraction so 
deadly and irresistible, that no wise man will want to expose 
himself or his children to such odds. Living in a tainted 
atmosphere does not increase the future capacity of the body 
to resist disease. Swimming is hard work and therefore 
good exercise, but not swimming where the undertow locks 
the swimmer's limbs in leaden embrace and drags him 
down. 

We cannot conceal from ourselves that in some directions 
the temptations of modern life are so virulent that characters 
and reputations are collapsing all about us with sickening 
frequency. The prevalence of fraud and the subtler kinds 
of dishonesty for which we have invented the new term 
"graft," is a sinister fact of the gravest import. It is not 
merely the weak who fall, but the strong. Clean, kindly, 
religious men stoop to methods so tricky, hard, and rapacious, 
that we stand aghast whenever the curtain is drawn aside 
and we are shown the inside facts. Every business man who 
has any finer moral discernment will realize that he himself 
is constantly driven by the pressure of business necessity 
into actions of which he is ashamed. Men do not want 
to do these things; but in a given situation they have to, if 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 26$ 

they want to survive or prosper, and the sum of these crooked 
actions gives an evil turn to their life. 

If it were proposed to invent some social system in which 
covetousness would be deliberately fostered and intensified 
in human nature, what system could be devised which would 
excel our own for this purpose? Competitive commerce 
exalts selfishness to the dignity of a moral principle. It pits 
men against one another in a gladiatorial game in which 
there is no mercy and in which ninety per cent of the com- 
batants finally strew the arena. It makes Ishmaels of our 
best men and teaches them that their hand must be against 
every man, since every man J s hand is against them. It makes 
men who are the gentlest and kindliest friends and neighbors, 
relentless taskmasters in their shops and stores, who will 
drain the strength of their men and pay their female employees 
wages on which no girl can live without supplementing them 
in some way. It spreads things before us and beseeches 
and persuades us to buy what we do not want. The show- 
windows and bargain-counters are institutions for the pro- 
motion of covetousness among women. Men offer us 
goods on credit and dangle the smallness of the first in- 
stalment before our eyes as an incentive to go into debt 
heedlessly. They try to break down the foresight and self- 
restraint which are the slow product of moral education, and 
reduce us to the moral habits of savages who gorge to-day and 
fast to-morrow. Kleptomania multiplies. It is the inevitable 
product of a social life in which covetousness is stimulated by 
all the ingenuity of highly paid specialists. The large stores 
have to take the most elaborate precautions against fraud by 
their employees and pilfering by their respectable customers. 
The finest hotels are plundered by their wealthy patrons of 



206 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

anything from silver spoons down to marked towels. Aftei 
the annual Ladies' Day at a prominent club in Chicago over 
two hundred spoons and two hundred thirty-seven sprigs of 
artificial decoration, besides miniature vases and bric-k-brac, 
were missing, and that is always the case after Ladies' Day, 
and never at other times. At a reform school for boys two 
lads were pointed out to me as the sons of two men of great 
wealth. They had been placed there by their parents to cure 
them of their inveterate habit of stealing. Their fathers 
were in the United States Senate. Our business life borders 
so closely on dishonesty that men are hardly aware when they 
cross the line. It is a penal offence for a government officer 
to profit by a contract which he awards or mediates ; in busi- 
ness life that is an everyday occurrence. No wonder that our 
officials are corrupt when their corruption is the respectability 
of business life. 

Gambling is the vice of the savage. True civilization ought 
to outgrow it, as it has outgrown tattooing and cannibalism. 
Instead of that our commercial life stimulates the gambling 
instinct. Our commerce is speculative in its very nature. 
Of course risk is inseparable from human life. It is the 
virtue of the pioneer to take risks boldly. Every field sown 
by the fanner represents a certain risk. But the element of 
labor is the main thing in the farmer's work and that makes 
the process wholesome. In the measure in which productive 
labor is eliminated and the risk taken becomes the sole title 
to the profit gained, the transaction approximates gambling. 
Above the entrance of an Eastern penal institution the motto 
has been inscribed, "The worst day in the life of a young 
man is when he gets the idea that he can make a dollar 
without doing a dollar's worth of work for it." That is good 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 267 

sense, but how would that motto look on the walls of the 
New York Stock Exchange or the Chicago Produce Ex- 
change? If a man buys stock or wheat on a margin and 
clears a hundred dollars, what labor or service has he given 
for which this is the reward ? In what respect does it differ 
from crap-shooting in which a boy risks his pennies and uses 
Ins skill just like the ^ peculator? In Europe, lotteries are 
slate institutions and prized privileges of churches and benev- 
olent undertakings. We have fortunately outlawed them 
in our country, but gambling is one of our national vices 
because our entire commerce is saturated with the spirit of it. 
The social nature of man makes him an imitative creature. 
The instinct of imitation and emulation may be a powerful 
lever for good if individuals and classes set the example of 
real culture and refinement of manners and taste. But the 
processes of competitive industry have poured vast wealth into 
the lap of a limited number and have created an unparal- 
leled lavishness of expenditure which has nothing ennobling 
about it. Those who have to work hard for their money will, 
as a rule, be careful how they spend it. Those who get it 
without effort, will spend it without thought. Thus parasitic 
wealth is sure to create a vicious luxury, which then acts as 
a centre of infection for all other classes. Fashions operate 
downward. Each class tries to imitate the one higher up, 
and to escape from the imitation of those lower down. Thus 
the ostentation of the overfull purses of the predatory rich 
lures all society into the worship of false gods. It intensi- 
fies " the lust of the eye and the pride of life " unnaturally, and 
to that extent expels " the love of the Father," which includes 
the love of all true values. Any one can test the matter in his 
own case by asking himself how much of his money, his time, 



268 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

and his worry is consumed in merely "keeping up with the 
procession," and is diverted from real culture to mere dis- 
play by the compulsion of social requirements about him. 
The man who lives only on his labor is brought into social 
competition with people who have additional income through 
rents and profits, and must break his back merely to keep his 
wife and children on a level with others. The very spirit of 
democracy which has wiped out the old class lines in modern 
life, makes the rivalry keener. In Europe a peasant girl or a 
servant formerly was quite content with the dress of her class 
and had no ambition to rival the very different dress of the 
gentry. With us the instinct of imitation works without a 
barrier from the top of the social pyramid to the bottom, 
and the whole process of consumption throughout society is 
feverishly affected by the aggregation of unearned money at 
the top. The embezzlements of business men, the nervous 
breakdown of women, the ruin of girls, the neglect of home 
and children, are largely caused by the unnatural pace of 
expenditures. If the rich had only what they earned, and the 
poor had all that they earned, all wheels would revolve more 
slowly and life would be more sane. 

Industry and commerce are in their nature productive and 
therefore good. But in our industry a strong element of 
rapacity vitiates the moral qualities of business life. A 
railway president in New York said to me half in joke, of 
course: "The men who go down town on the Elevated 
at seven and eight o'clock really make things. We who go 
down at nine and ten, only try to take things away from one 
another." Supplying goods to the people is, of course, the 
main thing; but crowding out the other man, who also wants 
to supply them, takes a large part of the time and energy oi 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 269 

business. Our competitive life has so deeply warped our 
moral judgment that not one man in a thousand will realize 
anything immoral in attracting another man's customers. 
"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's trade" is not in our 
decalogue. 

The same instinct of rapacity cheats the consumer. They 
sell us fruit- jam made without fruit; butter that never saw 
the milk-pail; potted chicken that grunted in the barnyard; 
all-wool goods that never said "baah," but leave it to the 
buyer to say it. If a son asks for bread, his father will not 
offer him a stone ; but ground soapstone is freely advertised 
as an adulterant for flour. Several years ago the Secretary of 
Agriculture, on the basis of an extensive inquiry, estimated 
that thirty per cent of the money paid for food products in the 
United States is paid for adulterated or misbranded goods. 1 
We are fortunate if the title of the food is false, but the food is 
wholesome. But when fruit flavors are made with coal-tar 
and benzoic acid, and when the milk for our children is pre- 
served with formaldehyde, the rapacity becomes murderous. 
The life of a mother or a child may depend on the purity of a 
medicine administered at the critical stage of a disease ; but 
we have very little guarantee that our medicines are not 
adulterated. In 1904 the Board of Health in New York City 
had a list of about three hundred druggists and dealers who 
had attempted to sell spurious mixtures to the very officers 

1 Senator McCumber, in a speech in the Senate, January 23, 1906. He 
added that if we reduced the estimate to fifteen per cent to be conservative, 
the amount would be about $1,750,000,000 To-day it would be safely 
estimated at $3,000,000,000 Our people would then annually pay for 
fraudulent and adulterated goods enough to pay the national debt thrice 
wer. We shall wait to see how much permanent change the new Pun 
Food Law will make. 



a 70 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

of the Board. Most of the patent medicines to which oui 
people trust are cheap and worthless concoctions. Others 
are insidious conveyers of narcotic poisons which are intended 
to set up a morbid appetite in the consumers for the profit 
of the dealers. And if patent medicines were as health- 
giving as they claim to be, the very principle of patenting and 
withholding from general use a beneficent invention for the 
saving of human life would be a shameful confession of 
selfish greed. The liquor traffic presents a striking case of a 
huge industry inducing people to buy what harms them. It 
is militant capitalism rotting human lives and characters to 
distil dividends. In the atrocities on the Congo we have the 
same capitalism doing its pitiless work in a safe and distant 
corner of the world, on an inferior race, and under the full 
support of the government. The rapacity of commerce has 
been the secret spring of most recent wars. Speculative 
finance is the axis on which international politics revolve. 

The counts in the indictment against our marvellous civ- 
ilization could be multiplied at pleasure. It is a splendid 
sinner, "magnificent in sin." The words which Bret Harte 
addressed to San Francisco in its earlier days, characterize 
the whole of modern society: 

" I know thy cunning and thy greed, 
Thy hard, high lust and wilful deed, 
And all thy glory loves to tell 
Of specious gifts material." 

It defrauds the customer who buys its goods. It drains and 
brutalizes the workman who does its work. It hunts the 
business man with fear of failure, or makes him hard with 
merciless success. It plays with the loaded dice of false 
prospectuses and watered stock, and the vaster its operations 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 271 

become, the more do they love the darkness rather than the 
light. It corrupts all that it touches, politics, education, the 
Church. For a profession to be "commercialized" means to 
be demoralized. The only realms of life in which we are still 
glad and happy are those in which the laws of commerce are 
not practised. If they entered the home, even that would be 
hell. 

Industry and commerce are good. They serve the needs 
of men. The men eminent in industry and commerce are 
good men, with the fine qualities of human nature. But the 
organization of industry and commerce is such that along 
with its useful service it carries death, physical and moral. 
Frederick Denison Maurice, one of the finest minds of Eng- 
land in the Victorian Age, said, " I do not see my way farther 
than this, Competition is put forth as the law of the uni- 
verse; that is a lie." And his friend Charles Kingsley 
added, "Competition means death; cooperation means life." 
Every joint-stock company, trust, or labor union organized, 
every extension of government interference or government 
ownership, is a surrender of the competitive principle and a 
halting step toward cooperation. Practical men take these 
steps because competition has proved itself suicidal to eco- 
nomic welfare. Christian men have a stouter reason for 
turning against it, because it slays human character and 
denies human brotherhood. If money dominates, the ideal 
cannot dominate. If we serve mammon, we cannot serve 
the Christ. 

We have purposely left to the last what properly comes The un- 
first in any consideration of social life. The family is the 
structural cell of the social organism. In it lives the power famil y 



$72 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

of propagation and renewal of life. It is the foundation oi 
morality, the chief educational institution, and the source of 
nearly all the real contentment among men. To create a 
maximum number of happy families might well be consid- 
ered the end of all statesmanship. As President Roose- 
velt recently said, all other questions sink into insignificance 
when the stability of the family is at stake. The most sig- 
nificant part of that utterance was that such a thing had to 
be uttered at all. 

Hard times are always marked by a downward curve in 
the percentage of marriages. In our country the decline has 
become chronic for some years past. Men marry late, and 
when the mating season of youth is once past, many never 
marry at all. In my city of Rochester, N.Y., with a popu- 
lation of 162,608, the census of 1900 showed 25,219 men 
between the age of 25 and 44, the years during which a 
man ought to be enjoying a home and rearing children, and 
7355 of them were still unmarried. There were 28,218 
women of the same years, relatively further along in mar- 
riageable age than the men, and 8109 were still unmarried. 

Now the attraction between men and women is just as fun- 
damental a fact in social life as the attraction of the earth 
is in physics, and the only way in which that tremendous 
force of desire can be prevented from wrecking lives is to 
make it build lives by home contentment. The existence of 
a large class of involuntary celibates in society is a more 
threatening fact even than the increase of divorces. The 
slums are aggregations of single men and women. If the 
monastic celibates of the Middle Ages, who had the power- 
ful incentive of religious enthusiasm and all the preventives 
of isolation and supervision, could not keep chaste, is it 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 273 

likely that the unmarried thousands in the freedom of mod- 
ern life will maintain their own purity and respect the purity 
of others ? They are thrust into the lonely life through no 
wise resolve of their own, but mainly through the fear that 
they will not be able to maintain a family in the standard 
of comfort which they deem necessary for their life. 

If a man and woman do marry, they do not yet constitute 
a true family. The little hand of a child, more than the 
blessing of a priest, consecrates the family. France has long 
been held up as furnishing the terrible example of a declin- 
ing birth-rate, but the older portions of our country are saved 
from the same situation only by the fertility of the immigrants. 
The native population of New England would not reproduce 
itself. 

The chief cause for this profoundly important fact is 
economic fear. Whenever the economic condition of any 
class is hopeful and improving, there is an increase in the 
birth-rate Whenever there is economic disaster or increasing 
pressure, there is a decline. In the West, where land is still 
abundant, families are large. The immigrants, who feel the 
relative easement of pressure, multiply. The natives, who 
suffer by the competition of the immigrants and who feel 
the tightening grip of our industrial development, refuse to 
bring children into a world which threatens them with 
poverty. 

Our cheerful newspaper optimists assure us that the Ameri- 
can child makes up by quality what it lacks in numbers. 
They quote the reply of the lioness in the fable, " One, but 
a lion." But that is merely an effort to make an ugly fact 
look sweet. People hunting for apartments in a large city 
soon discover one cause. "As arrows in the hand of a 



274 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

mighty man, so are the children of youth," said the Psalmist 
"Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them; they 
shall not be put to shame when they speak with their enemies 
in the gate." But they shall talk very humbly and beseech- 
ingly when they speak with their prospective landlords now- 
adays. The concentration of population in the cities through 
competitive necessities, the consequent increase in rents, the 
enforced proximity to undesirable neighbors, the rise in the 
standard of luxury together with the decreased purchasing 
power of the average income these account in the main 
for the declining birth-rate. When men are hardly able to 
keep their head above water, they fear to carry a child on 
their back. Fear stands where the spring of life should 
bubble and freezes it into subsidence. That situation raises 
the most serious questions in the most intimate morality of 
human life. Moreover, the absence of children decreases 
the cohesive power of the married relation, the blithenes* 
and youthfulness of life, the unselfishness of character, the in- 
sight into human nature; in short, it blights much of what 
is really fine and high in the souls and relations of men. The 
luxury and culture made possible by the absence of children 
is a glittering varnish to cover decaying wood. 

The menace to the future of our nation is still greater 
through the fact that sterility is most marked among the able 
and educated families. The shiftless, and all those with 
whom natural passion is least restrained, will breed most 
freely. The prudent consider and shrink. The poor have 
little to lose. Children are their form of old-age pensions. 
The well-to-do see the possible depth to which they or theh 
children may descend, and are afraid. Thus the reproduc- 
tion of the race is left to the poor and ignorant. UnusuaJ 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 

ability is not transmitted. The benefits of intellectual en 
vironment fail to be prolonged by heredity. The vital sta- 
tistics of Harvard and Columbia graduates show a rapidly 
declining birth-rate and complete failure to reproduce their 
own number. 1 I sat at a table with seven of the best and 
ablest men I know. We talked of children and found that 
only two had a child ; one of the two was a Swede, the other 
the son of German immigrants. In a previous chapter we 
referred to the loss suffered by mankind through the sterility 
of its most ideal individuals while monasticism and priestly 
celibacy prevailed. 2 Here we have a fact of equal historical 
significance, but unrelieved by the idealism of the monastic 
vow. Education can only train the gitts with which a child 
is endowed at birth. The intellectual standard of humanity 
can be raised only by the propagation of the capable. Our 
social system causes an unnatural selection of the weak for 
breeding, and the result is the survival of the unfittest. 

When the family is small, the influence of brothers and 
sisters on the formation of character is lacking. When the 
father has to work long hours and then spend additional time 
in travelling between his home and his work, the element of 
fatherhood in the home is reduced to a minimum. If the 
mother, too, goes out to work, the children are left to "the 
street," which is an educator of rather doubtful value. If 
boarders and roomers are taken in to help in paying the rent, 

1 President Eliot, in the annual report of Harvard, 1903, gives the vital 
statistics of six classes more than twenty-five years out of college. They fell 
about twenty-eight per cent short of reproducing themselves. Professor 
Thorndike of Columbia University finds that there has been a steady decline 
of the average number of children from 5.6 in the classes graduating 1803- 
1809 down to 1.8 in the classes graduating 1875-1879. 

V 174- 



276 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

an alien and often a demoralizing element enters the family 
Thus the economic situation everywhere saps family life. 

One family to one house is the only normal condition. 
When twenty families live in one tenement, twenty souls 
inhabit one body. That was the condition of the demoniac 
of Gadara, in whom dwelt a legion. He was crazy. 

To be a home in the fullest sense, it must be loved with 
the sense of proprietorship As cities grow, home owner- 
ship declines A semi-vagrancy from one flat to the next 
grows up. In the borough of Manhattan only six per cent 
of the homes are owned by those who live in them ; in Phila- 
delphia, a city of small houses, only twenty- two per cent own 
their homes. Rochester is an almost ideal city for the devel- 
opment of homes, and the popular assumption is that nearly 
everybody owns his home. Yet the census of 1900 showed 
that of the 33,964 homes in the city only 12,290 were owned 
by the tenants, and half of these were mortgaged. 

The condition of the home determines the condition of 
woman. If girls are eagerly sought in marriage, they can 
choose the best. If few men can afford a good home, girls 
must take what offers or go without. If a man can easily 
make a living for a family, he can afford to be indifferent to 
anything but the person of the woman he loves. As the 
economic pressure tightens and social classes grow more 
clearly defined, American men, too, will begin to inquire what 
property comes to them with their bride. We shall have love 
modified by the "dot." 

Our optimists treat it as a sign of progress that "so many 
professions are now open to women." But it is not choice, 
but grim necessity, that drives woman into new ways of 
getting bread and clothing. The great majority of girls 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 277 

heartily prefer the independence and the satisfaction of the 
heart which are offered to a woman only in a comfortable 
and happy home. Some educated girls think they prefer 
the practice of a profession because the dream of unusual 
success lures them ; but when they have had a taste of the 
wearing routine that prevails in most professions, they turn 
with longing to the thought of a home of their own. Our 
industrial machine has absorbed the functions which women 
formerly fulfilled in the home, and has drawn them into its 
hopper because female labor is unorganized and cheap labor. 
They are made to compete with the very men who ought to 
marry them, and thus they further diminish their own chance 
of marriage. If any one has a sound reason for taking the 
competitive system by the throat in righteous wrath, it is the 
unmarried woman and the mother with girls. 

Girls go to work at the very age when their developing 
body ought to be shielded from physical and mental strain. 
Many are kept standing for long hours at a time. During 
rush seasons they are pushed to exhaustion. In few cases 
can they permit themselves that periodical easement which 
is essential to the continued health of most women. Many 
of them enter marriage with organic troubles that develop 
their full import only in later years. Girls pass from school 
to shop or store and never learn housekeeping well. If they 
marry, they assume charge of a manufacturing establishment 
in which all the varied functions are performed by one woman. 
They have to learn the work at an age when the body no 
longer acquires new habits readily. If the burden of ma- 
ternity is added at the same time, the strain is immense, and 
is likely to affect the temper and the happiness of the home. 
It is thus our civilization prepares its women for the all- 



2?8 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

important function of motherhood, for on the women of the 
working class rests the function of bearing and rearing the 
future citizens of the republic. Individually Americans are 
more tender of women than any other nation. Collectively 
we treat them with cruelty and folly. 

A large proportion of working women are not paid wages 
sufficient to support themselves in comfort and to dress as 
the requirements of their position and of modern taste de- 
mand. In that case they must either suffer want or sup- 
plement their earnings. They are fortunate if fathers and 
brothers support the home. In that case they are able to 
underbid those who are dependent on their own labor alone. 
If the home does not thus shield them, what are they to do ? 
There are numbers of unmarried and married men about 
them looking for transient love. The girls themselves have 
the womanly desire for the company and love of men. Sat- 
isfaction by marriage may not be in sight. They crave for 
the clothing, the trinkets, the pleasures that glitter about 
them. It is so easy to get a share. When I reflect on the 
unstained virtue and nobility of the great majority of working 
girls whom I have known, I feel the deepest respect for them. 
But some are always on the edge of danger. As the crocodile 
takes toll of the Hindu women at the river ford, so every now 
and then one of the girls throws up her hands and goes under. 
Those who are strong by personal vigor, or by religious train- 
ing, can escape, and blessed is he who strengthens their 
hands. But that does not satisfy the situation. If a ship 
were wrecked and the passengers clinging to the tilted deck, 
the strongest would hold on best. If some one cheered their 
failing strength and showed them how best to cling, it would 
be a great service. But if the deck kept on tilting at a 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 279 

steeper angle, more still would go. There are employers in 
European cities who expect as a matter of course that their 
female clerks will give them more than the working capacity 
of their bodies. There are stores in New York and else- 
where where some girls get the easy positions and some are 
made uncomfortable for reasons well understood. That 
sort of oppression will be successful in the measure in 
which the girls fear to lose their positions. Woe to the 
weak! They are like birds fluttering in the hot hand of 
the pursuer. The most serious danger is not the increase of 
professional prostitutes, but the frequency with which women 
supplement their wages and secure their pleasures by occa- 
sional immorality. Prostitutes are ostracized by their class. 
It is worse if girls are tainted, but retain their standing and 
spread the contagion. The freedom of movement in Ameri- 
can life and the growing knowledge of preventives makes 
sin easy and safe. To any one who realizes the value of 
womanly purity, it is appalling to think that the standard 
of purity for their whole sex may drop and approximate the 
standard prevailing among men. 

The health of society rests on the welfare of the home. 
What, then, will be the outcome if the unmarried multiply; if 
homes remain childless; if families are homeless; if girls do 
not know housework; and if men come to distrust the purity 
of women? 

The continents are strewn with the ruins of dead nations The fall 01 
and civilizations. History laughs at the optimistic illusion chn^a^ 
that " nothing can stand in the way of human progress." It civilization 
would be safer to assert that progress is always for a time only, 
and then succumbs to the inevitable decay. One by one 



280 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

the ancient peoples rose to wealth and civilization, extended 
their sway as far as geographical conditions would permit, 
and then began to decay within and to crumble away with 
out, until the mausoleums of their kings were the haunt of 
jackals, and the descendants of their conquering warriors 
were abject peasants slaving for some alien lord. What 
guarantee have we, then, that our modern civilization with its 
pomp will not be "one with Nineveh and Tyre"? 

The most important question which humanity ought to 
address to its historical scholars is this: "Why did these 
others die, and what can we do to escape their fate?" For 
death is not an inevitable and welcome necessity for a nation, 
as it is for the individual. Its strength and bloom could be 
indefinitely prolonged if the people were wise and just enough 
to avert the causes of decay. There is no inherent cause why 
a great group of nations, such as that which is now united 
in Western civilization, should not live on in perpetual youth, 
overcoming by a series of rejuvenations every social evil as 
it arises, and using every attainment as a stepping-stone to a 
still higher culture of individual and social life. It has never 
yet been done. Can it be done in a civilization in which 
Christianity is the salt of the earth, the social preservative? 

Of all the other dead civilizations we have only scattered 
relics and fragmentary information, as of some fossil creature 
of a past geological era. We can only guess at their fate. 
But the rise and fall of one happened in the full light of day, 
and we have historical material enough to watch every step 
of the process. That was the Graeco-Roman civilization 
which clustered about the Mediterranean Sea. 

Its golden age, which immediately preceded its rapid de- 
cline, had a striking resemblance to our own time. In bcth 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 281 

cases there was a swift increase in wealth. The Empire 
policed the seas and built roads. The safety of commerce 
and the ease of travel and transportation did for the Empire 
what steam transportation did for the nineteenth century. 
The mass of slaves secured by the wars of conquest, and 
organized for production in the factories and on the great 
estates, furnished that increase in cheap productive force 
which the invention of steam machinery and the division and 
organization of labor furnished to the modern world. No 
new civilization was created by these improved conditions; 
but the forces latent in existing civilization were stimulated 
and set free, and their application resulted in a rapid efflo- 
rescence of the economic and intellectual life. Just as the 
nations about the Seven Seas are drawing together to-day 
and are sharing their spiritual possessions in a common civili- 
zation, so the Empire broke down the barriers of the nations 
about the Mediterranean, gathered them in a certain unity 
of life, and poured their capacities and thoughts into a com- 
mon fund. The result was a breakdown of the old faiths 
and a wonderful fertilization of intellectual life. 

Wealth to use a homely illustration is to a nation 
what manure is to a farm. If the farmer spreads it evenly 
over the soil, it will enrich the whole. If he should leave it 
in heaps, the land would be impoverished and under the rich 
heaps the vegetation would be killed. 

The new wealth created in the Roman Empire was not 
justly distributed, but fell a prey to a minority who were in 
a position to seize it. A new money aristocracy arose which 
financed the commercial undertakings and shouldered the 
old aristocratic families aside, just as the feudal aristocracies 
were superseded in consequence of the modern industrial 



282 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

revolution. A few gained immense wealth, while 
them was a mass of slaves and free proletarians. The in- 
dependent middle class disappeared. The cities grew ab- 
normally at the expense of the country and its sturdy popu- 
lation. Great fortunes were made and yet there was constant 
distress and frequent hard times. The poor had no rights 
in the means of production, so they used the political power 
still remaining to them to secure state grants of land, money, 
grain, and pleasures There was widespread reluctance to 
marry and to rear children. Education became common, and 
yet culture declined. There were plenty of universities, great 
libraries, well-paid professors, and yet a growing coarseness 
of taste and a decline in creative artistic and literary ability. 
If the yellow newspaper could have been printed, it would 
have " filled a long-felt want." The social conditions in- 
volved a readjustment of political power. A strong cen- 
tralized government was necessary to keep the provinces 
quiet while Rome taxed them and the bureaucracy grew rich 
on them Government was not based broadly on the just 
consent of the governed, but on the swords of the legions, 
and especially of the praetorian guard. The old republican 
forms were long maintained, but Rome verged more and 
more toward despotic autocracy. 

In a hundred ways the second century of our era seemed 
to be the splendid culmination of all the past. The Empire 
seemed imperishable in the glory of almost a thousand years 
of power. To prophesy its fall would have seemed like pre- 
dicting the failure of civilization and humanity. The re- 
verses which began with the death of Marcus Aurelius in 
A.D. 1 80 seemed mere temporary misfortunes. Yet they 
were the beginning of the end. 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 283 

The German and Celtic tribes had long swirled and eddied 
about the northern boundary of the Empire, like the ocean 
about the dikes of Holland. The little Rome of Marius a 
hundred years before Christ had successfully beaten back 
the Cimbrians and Teutons. For two centuries the strong 
arm of the legions had dammed the flood behind the Rhine 
and Danube. Rome was so much superior in numbers, in 
wealth, in the science of war and all the resources of civiliza- 
tion, that it might have continued to hold them in check and 
to turn their forward movements in other directions. But 
the decay at the centre now weakened the capacity for re- 
sistance at the borders. The farmers who had made the 
legions of the Republic invincible had been ruined by the 
competition of slave labor, crowded out by land monopoly, 
and sucked into the ragged proletariat of the cities. The 
armies had to be recruited from the conquered provinces and 
finally from barbarian mercenaries. The moral enthusiasm 
of a citizen soldiery fighting for their homes was gone. The 
impoverished and overtaxed provinces were unable to re- 
spond to additional financial needs. Slowly the barbarians 
filtered into the Northern provinces by mass immigration. 
The civilized population did not have vitality enough to 
assimilate the foreign immigrants. Slowly, by gradual 
stages, hardly fast enough for men to realize what was going 
on, the ancient civilization retreated, and the flood of bar- 
barism covered the provinces, with only some islands of 
culture rising above the yellow flood. 

And how will it be with us ? Will that vaster civilization 
which began in Europe and is now spreading along the 
shores of all the oceans, as Rome grew from Italy outward 
around the great inland sea, run through the same stages? 



284 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

If the time of our weakness comes, the barbarians will no\ 
be wanting to take possession. Where the carcass is, the 
vultures will gather. 

(Nations do not die by wealth, but by injustice. The for- 
ward impetus comes through some great historical oppor- 
tunity which stimulates the production of wealth, breaks up 
the caked and rigid order of the past, sets free the energies 
of new classes, calls creative leaders to the front, quickens 
the intellectual life, intensifies the sense of duty and the ideal 
devotion to the common weal, and awakens in the strong 
individuals the large ambition of patriotic service. Progress 
slackens when a single class appropriates the social results 
of the common labor, fortifies its evil rights by unfair laws, 
throttles the masses by political centralization and suppres- 
sion, and consumes in luxury what it has taken in covetous- 
ness. Then there is a gradual loss of productive energy, an 
increasing bitterness and distrust, a waning sense of duty 
and devotion to country, a paralysis of the moral springs of 
noble action. Men no longer love the Commonwealth, be 
cause it does not stand for the common wealth. Force has 
to supply the cohesive power which love fails to furnish. Ex- 
ploitation creates poverty, and poverty is followed by physical 
degeneration. Education, art, wealth, and culture may con- 
tinue to advance and may even ripen to their mellowest 
perfection when the worm of death is already at the heart 
of the nation. Internal convulsions or external catastrophes 
will finally reveal the state of decay. 

It is always a process extending through generations or 
even centuries. It is possible that with the closely knit 
nations of the present era the resistive vitality is greater than 
in former ages, and it will take much longer for them to break 



THE PRESENT CRISIS 285 

up. The mobility of modern intellectual life will make it 
harder for the stagnation of mind and the crystallization of 
institutions to make headway. But unless the causes of 
social wrong are removed, it will be a slow process of stran- 
gulation and asphyxiation. 

In the last resort the only hope is in the moral forces which 
can be summoned to the rescue. If there are statesmen, 
prophets, and apostles who set truth and justice above selfish 
advancement; if their call finds a response in the great 
body of the people ; if a new tide of religious faith and moral 
enthusiasm creates new standards of duty and a new capacity 
for self-sacrifice ; if the strong learn to direct their love of 
power to the uplifting of the people and see the highest self- 
assertion in self-sacrifice then the intrenchments of vested 
wrong will melt away; the stifled energy of the people will 
leap forward ; the atrophied members of the social body will 
be filled with a fresh flow of blood ; and a regenerate nation 
will look with the eyes of youth across the fields of the future. 

The cry of "Crisis! crisis!" has become a weariness. 
Every age and every year are critical and fraught with 
destiny. Yet in the widest survey of history Western civili- 
zation is now at a decisive point in its development. 

Will some Gibbon of Mongol race sit by the shore of the 
Pacific in the year A.D. 3000 and write on the "Decline and 
Fall of the Christian Empire" ? If so, he will probably de- 
scribe the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as the golden 
age when outwardly life flourished as never before, but when 
that decay, which resulted in the gradual collapse of the 
twenty-first and twenty-second centuries, was already far 
advanced. 

Or will the twentieth century mark for the future historian 



286 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

the real adolescence of humanity, the great emancipation 
from barbarism and from the paralysis of injustice, and the 
beginning of a progress in the intellectual, social, and moral 
life of mankind to which all past history has no parallel ? 

It will depend almost wholly on the moral forces which 
the Christian nations can bring to the fighting line against 
wrong, and the fighting energy of those moral forces will 
again depend on the degree to which they are inspired by 
religious faith and enthusiasm. It is either a revival of social 
religion or the deluge. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE STAKE OF THE CHURCH IN THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 

THE demoralization of society which we have tried to bring 
before us in the preceding chapter ought to appeal most 
powerfully to the Church, for the Church is to be the incar- 
nation of the Christ-spirit on earth, the organized conscience 
of Christendom. It should be swiftest to awaken to every 
undeserved suffering, bravest to speak against every wrong, 
and strongest to rally the moral forces of the community 
against everything that threatens the better life among men. 

But in addition to the call of unselfish duty, the Church 
may well hear in the present crisis the voice of warning to it 
to guard its own interests. The organized Church is a great 
social institution, deeply rooted in the common life of hu- 
manity, and if all other human life about it suffers through 
some permanent evil, the Church is bound to suffer with it. 
It holds property ; it needs income ; it employs men. There- 
fore whatever affects property and employment will affect the 
Church. Its work is done on human material; anything 
which deteriorates that material, impedes the work of the 
Church. The warning of justifiable self-interest runs in the 
same direction with the call to duty and each reenf orces the 
other. 1 

In this chapter I propose to set forth this aspect of the 

1 An article in which I set forth this line of thought in more rudimentary 
form was published in the American Journal of Sociology, July, 1897. 

87 



288 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

situation. It is not the highest line of appeal, but it well 
deserves consideration, not only by those whose professional 
interests are bound up with the Church, but by all who believe 
that the Church propagates and perpetuates the religious 
life, and that its vitality is of importance to the higher life of 
humanity. 

The Church The Church is a large landowner. As soon as it gets 
estate* "* beyond its first itinerant stage, it needs a permanent foot- 
hold on the land. Every enlargement of church work, every 
mission or parish-house, requires land. If land is cheap, 
church expansion is easy. If land prices are artificially high, 
expansion is checked. Land speculation, which checks and 
strangles every other business, hampers the Church too. 

The retarding influence of land prices is felt most in the 
founding of missions and young churches It is a frost that 
nips the young shoots. A young church enterprise is usually 
feeble in its finances. If it has to pay a prohibitive price 
for a mere location, that may cripple it or frustrate it alto- 
gether. 

Now, land prices are highest where population is densest. 
Consequently it is harder to plant new churches in large 
cities than in small. A hundred working people in a small 
town might easily unite in buying a lot for $1000. The same 
hundred persons, if living in New York, might have to pa> 
$10,000 for a lot of half the size. But the denser the popula- 
tion, the more unwholesome are the moral influences and the 
greater is the need of religious work. Thus land prices act 
as an automatic brake on church extension, and this brake 
presses the harder, the steeper the uphill grade is which the 
Church has to climb. This is one simple explanation of the 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 289 

fact so often lamented, that the Church does not keep pace 
with the population in large cities. A certain church in New 
York fifty years ago planted a number of missions in the 
growing suburbs of that day by holding cottage meetings in 
the homes of its members and renting vacant stores in which 
it organized Sunday-schools. Several of these missions de- 
veloped into vigorous churches. Forty years later the same 
church desired to resume its early missionary career, but its 
members now lived in tenement houses, and the cheapest 
store in sight cost $600 a year. It was numerically and 
financially stronger than in its early days, but rent had in- 
creased faster than the ability of the church, and high rent 
quenched its missionary impulse. The pioneer work which 
formerly rested on the spontaneous zeal of plain people 
becomes dependent on the assistance of wealthy individuals 
or city mission organizations. That conduces to prudence, 
and also to officialism. 

Of course single churches may profit by the land system 
which hampers the Church at large. A church occasionally 
sells its old site at an enormous increase and builds luxuriously 
in a new neighborhood on the proceeds. Several denomina- 
tions in New York City are forging ahead of others, not 
simply by superior spiritual efficiency, but because they have 
long had an endowment in city land and are able to feed their 
religious work with the " unearned increment" created by the 
community. In general our land system works against the 
great majority of churches which have to live from hand to 
mouth. It has long seemed to me that the land-tax system 
advocated by Henry George would create almost ideal con- 
ditions for the ordinary church. A church would then pay an 
annual rental or tax on the site occupied, just as if it occupied 
u 



290 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

land under a perpetual lease. It would not have to raise a 
large sum for the initial purchase of the land, but could devote 
its available capital to the church edifice, and hope to pay its 
annual land-tax from its current income, just as it now pays 
interest on the church debt. 

The needs of modern industry shift and change the popula- 
tion. They denude the country and gather the people about 
the shops and mines. They invade a residence neighborhood 
with factories, scatter the old population, and fill the chinks 
between the shops and warehouses with a population of lower 
grade, and perhaps of alien faith and tongue. This affects 
the churches profoundly. Fine old country churches are 
left high and dry. When a trust transfers a shop to another 
city, some church may be left behind, like Rachel, mourning 
for her children. Protestant churches wake up and find 
themselves in an Italian or Jewish neighborhood. All the 
endless labor and love which pastor and people put into the 
erection of a new church home may serve only for a few years, 
and then the location will have to be abandoned and the 
edifice sold for second-hand building material. The inter- 
est of the Church is in stability of population. A permanent 
location builds up an invaluable "good-will." People come 
to love the local church for the memories and traditions which 
cling about it and make it more beautiful than the ivy on its 
walls. Churches are long-lived organisms, like trees, and 
strike their roots deeper with the passing years. When a 
speculative and frantic commerce hustles the churches 
around, they owe it no thanks. 

Competitive industry sweeps the people together in the great 
cities. Therewith it creates the problem of the down-town 
church. In a community of moderate diameter the people 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 2QI 

on the outskirts can easily reach a church built in the centre. 
When a city grows very large, the outer fringe of homes drifts 
ever farther away from the ancient churches that stand in 
heroic loneliness like the Roman soldier dying on guard at 
Pompeii. Their problem is aggravated b/ land speculation, 
which usually lays a belt of sparsely settled land about the 
city and compels home-seekers to cross that belt to nuclei of 
social life still farther out. 

These brief suggestions will suffice to show that at the 
bottom of some of the gravest problems that harass churches 
and pastors lies the land question in its relation to the com- 
plex total of modern life. The condition of the crowded and 
landless people ought long ago to have aroused the Church to 
examine the moral basis of our land system. Let it realize 
in addition that its own growth and stability is impaired by 
the same causes. 



The income of the Church in former times and in other The Churd 

and its 
come. 



countries was mainly derived from landed wealth or from "* ltsin " 
state subsidies. In our country the churches with few excep- 
tions are maintained by the current contributions of their 
living members. It is therefore of the utmost importance to 
the financial welfare of the churches that their members 
shall have a regular and secure income, from which they 
can readily support their church. Thus the Church has the 
greatest possible interest in a just and even distribution of 
wealth. The best community for church support at present 
is a comfortable middle-class neighborhood. A social sys- 
tem which would make moderate wealth approximately 
universal would be the best soil for robust churches. If, on 
the contrary, society tends to divide into a few rich families 



292 



CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 



and a mass of poor wage-earners, the troubles of the Church 
are before it. 

We all understand that a man receiving $500 a year cannot 
pay as much to religious institutions as a man receiving $5000, 
but the universal impression seems to be that he can fairly be 
expected to contribute the same proportion of his income. 
The Old Testament law of tithing is very generally recom- 
mended as the ideal to be followed by all, on the supposition 
that ten per cent of an income of $500 is the same proportion 
as ten per cent of an income of $5000. This commercial 
method of calculation leaves some fundamental facts of 
human nature out of account and has inflicted a grave wrong 
on the poorer portion of our churches. Dr. Ernst Engel, long 
the eminent chief of the Prussian Bureau of Statistics, com- 
piled from a large number of family budgets the propor- 
tion expended for various purposes. The following table 1 
contains the main results : 





PERCENTAGE OF THE EXPENDITURE OF A 




FAMILY WITH AN INCOME OF 






ITEM OF r^XPENDiTURES 


$225-8300 


$45o-$6oo 


$75o-$ i ioo 




a year 


a year 


a year 


i Subsistence 


62 o%' 




55%' 




500%' 




2 Clothing 
3 Lodging 


160% 

120% 


95% 


180% 

120% 


90% 


180% 

120% 


85% 


4 Fmng and lighting 


50%. 




5%J 




5%. 




5 Education, worship, etc 


20%] 




35%] 




5-5%] 




6 Legal protection 


10% 




20% 




30% 




7 Care of health 


10% 


5% 


20% 


10% 


30% 


15% 


8 Comfort, mental and 














bodily recreation 


10%. 




25%, 




35%, 





1 Report of the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor, 1885 Dr. 
R. T Ely has a brief discussion of the table in his " Outlines of Eco 
nomics," pp. 243-245. 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 293 

The minor items of this table will vary somewhat in dif- 
ferent countries, according to local prices and customs ; but 
the main deduction, which is known in Political Economy as 
"Engel's Law of Consumption," is as universal as human 
nature. It will be noticed that the first four items include 
those expenditures which satisfy the animal necessities of 
the body : food, shelter, and warmth. The other four satisfy 
the higher needs. As the income rises, the proportion spent 
on the first group sinks, and the proportion spent on the 
second group rises. Within the first group the proportion 
spent for lodging, heat, and light is the same in all classes, 
and the proportion for clothing nearly so. But the propor- 
tion spent for food is far larger with the poorest families. 
The human body has certain imperious demands for its 
maintenance, and these demands cannot be compressed be- 
low a certain minimum. If the income is small, the largest 
part must go simply for stoking the human machine, and the 
higher needs of the social, intellectual, and religious nature 
must be starved. If food prices rise, that proportion will 
be still greater. The nearer the people descend toward 
the poverty line, the less will be available for the higher 
wants. 

If, then, any average wage-earner in the churches has 
actually given a tenth of his income, he deserves profound 
respect. It is heroic giving for him. And if we have al- 
lowed the impression to prevail that the giving of one-tenth 
by all was equal giving for all, we have unwittingly inflicted 
a grievous injustice on the poorer church members. 

In every church working among the poorer classes there are 
a number who contribute nothing or are dependents of the 
church instead of supporters. Every season of economic 



294 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

distress depresses additional families below this line. But 
some self-respecting people may choose a different line of 
action. If their church membership involves too heavy a 
tax, they drop away. Other causes and motives may work 
in the same direction, but the pressure exerted by the sys- 
tematized giving of the modern church, and the insistence 
on this virtue in pulpit teaching, must alienate some. They 
simply cannot afford church life. The fraternal societies, 
which offer insurance and mutual help in sickness and death, 
have increased immensely among the wage-earners, while the 
Church confessedly has lost ground among them. Is this 
due merely to religious indifference and unbelief, or to 
poverty coupled with self-respect? 

I am not in a position to prove this, but I offer it as a 
working hypothesis to explain in part the alienation of the 
working classes from the churches. Certainly the churches 
are deeply affected by the economic pressure resting on the 
wage-workers. Engel's Law deserves serious consideration 
from the point of view of church finances. I have never come 
across any discussion of it nor any indication that it is under- 
stood in its bearings on church life. 

If the people become poor, they cannot afford to share in 
a self-supporting church. The unequal distribution of wealth 
thus tends to strip the churches of their poorer clientage. 
The same inequality of wealth threatens the churches in other 
ways on the side of the strong who profit by it. 

If a church is composed of many wage-workers with a few 
well-to-do families, the contributions of these few will be of 
inordinate importance in the financial affairs of the church. 
The departure of a single family may mean that the church 
can no longer pay the minister's salary nor support itself, 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 295 

Such a condition will almost inevitably breed an unwhole 
some deference at some points and an unwholesome jealousy 
at others. It would be strange, too, if those who are the 
financial stays of the church did not have the feeling that their 
wishes ought to be decisive about the coming and going of 
the minister and other matters deeply affecting the spiritual 
life. But the preference of wealthy men and their wives 
may select a pastor who is more of a courtier than a saint. 
'The fundamental evil in the union of Church and State is* 
that worldly men with their interests and points of view 
dominate the life of the Church which ought to be guided by 
moral and Christian interests. The point of contact between 
the Church and the State was frequently the local nobleman, 
who had the right of "patronage" and could "present the 
living" to some candidate of his own selection. It was this 
which caused the Disruption of the Church of Scotland 
in 1843. Church and State are separate with us, but the 
essence of the evil may creep in once more as soon as the mass 
of church members are financially weak and a few persons 
hold the financial existence of the church in their hands. 
Church democracy and voluntaryism presuppose approxi- 
mate financial equality. 

The danger just described has been averted usually by the 
fact that in the larger cities, where there is more than one 
church of a denominat'cn, the wealthier families do not 
remain In the poorer churches, but gravitate toward churches 
composed in the main of their own class. Water seeks its 
level and so do men. If a young man rises to wealth, and if 
he and his wife have social ambitions, or if they have intel- 
lectual and aesthetic tastes, the wealthy church attracts them. 
If a man from Christian motives remains in a church of poorer 



2QO CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

people and bears its burdens, he may find that undesirable 
associations threaten his growing children there. There are 
a hundred perfectly natural and legitimate reasons to rec- 
ommend a transfer of membership to the more congenial 
surroundings. As fast as the social extremes draw apart and 
society stratifies in classes, the churches will pass through the 
same process. The very democracy of our intercourse in 
America makes it the more inevitable. 

But this situation creates the same problem of dependence 
on a larger scale. The poorer churches become financially 
dependent on those which contain the wealth of the denomi- 
nation. If a small church becomes a "mission" of a wealthy 
church, it thereby secures volunteer workers and a safe 
budget, but it loses its independence and something of its 
virility. If a city mission organization undertakes the sup- 
port of the poorer churches, it is certain to draw its income 
chiefly from the wealthy churches, and the situation will again 
be essentially the same. 

The inequality of wealth affects the churches on a still 

larger scale. Most denominations have a few very wealthy 

supporters. The yearly balance of the great denominational 

boards and institutions may depend on the single-handed 

contributions of these large givers. The initiative in the 

larger religious enterprises will fall to them. If they hitch 

their steam-tug to the denominational canal-boat, it will 

float away to a prosperous voyage; if they hold off, it will 

stick on the mud-bank of poverty and all the poling of the 

crew may not get it afloat. They may, and often do, use 

their vast powers very wisely to develop the latent resources 

oi therr denomination. But it is at least conceivable that men 

whose character has been moulded by commercialism, may be 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 297 

guided by points of view very alien from the Christian spirit, 
and that personal dislikes or class prejudices may decide 
questions of the greatest spiritual importance. Thus the 
mere fact of great inequality of wealth injects a monarchi- 
cal element into denominations with democratic government, 
and in bodies with episcopal government it creates a financial 
episcopacy back of the bishops. 

Then there is always the danger of change. The rich man 
may grow weary of the constant demands on his help and the 
disheartening experiences of untruthfulness and parasitism 
which he is bound to make, and may slacken in his giving. 
It is not as delightful to be a god on a small scale as outsiders 
think. Or the children of the rich man may be debilitated 
by the atmosphere of wealth and be more interested in or- 
chids or art curios than in the Church their father and mother 
loved so well. Or they may follow the drift of their social 
set toward the ritualistic churches, which offer more aes- 
thetic satisfaction and bring to this country some of the social 
prestige and antique grandeur which they have in older 
countries. In any of these contingencies the revenues of 
an entire denomination, which have been adjusted to these 
important contributions, may be upset and its missionary 
policies at home and abroad may suffer calamitous retrench- 
ment. If wealth is in few hands, there is the pleasant pos- 
sibility of very large and swift benefactions, but there is also 
a constant danger of instability. The safest income is from 
the moderately wealthy. 

There is more to say, but this will suffice to show that the 
financial welfare of the churches is bound up with the eco- 
nomic health of society, and that its perils increase as wealth 
accumulates in few hands and the social extremes draw 



2g& CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

farther apart. Moreover, the finances of the Church have 
always affected its constitution and inner life in the subtlest 
ways. 1 The bishops probably rose to power in the early 
Church first of all by controlling the purse-strings of the 
churches. One cause for the rise of the papacy was the 
large wealth early controlled by the bishop of Rome. The 
history of the Church in the Middle Ages and its struggles 
with the secular powers were largely due to the fact that the 
Church was a great landowner and fought for its income. 
The corruptions of the papacy and its financial extortions, 
which alienated the Northern nations and prepared them 
for the schism of the Reformation, were due in part to the 
economic changes of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. 
The financial necessities of the Church even created new 
sacramental observances, and indirectly the doctrines based 
on them. In the Reformation financial interests played a 
decisive part throughout. The democratic polity of the va- 
rious congregational bodies, which is most in harmony with 
the genius of American life, grew up in homogeneous bodies 
of plain people. It works best where social equality is 
greatest. Its essence is imperilled as soon as equality de- 
parts. Financial changes are apt to involve far more than 
any one foresees at the time. When financial control shifts, 
other elements and functions of church life are sure to shift 
with it. The Church surely has an interest at stake in the 
distribution of social wealth. 2 

1 See an article by Professor Harnack in the Contemporary Review, 
1904, p. 846, on "The Relation between Ecclesiastical and General His- 
tory." 

1 On this entire subject see "The Captive City of God," by my friend 
Mr. Richard Heath, a book written with searching insight and prophetic 
power. 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 299 

One of the finest results of our free church life is that it has The volu* 
developed the resources of the laity and has offered to the ^[hT* " 
ordinary members the opportunity to express their Christian Church, 
life in Christian work. The American conception of a church 
is not to have an active priest or minister with a passive 
people. All recent movements in church organization, for 
instance the Endeavor Societies and Men's Clubs, have 
tended to draw new groups of the membership into active 
participation in church work. Church work has been 
laicized. The instinct of the leaders of these movements 
has been entirely right. In our schools we have learned that 
a child profits not by what is said to it by the teacher, but by 
what it says and does itself. In the volunteer work of our 
churches lies their chief educational value, and the lay workers 
are the main reservoir of religious strength. 

It is, then, of the utmost importance to the churches to > 
have a large supply of intelligent and competent men and 
women, who have a margin of leisure time and a reserve 
fund of physical and mental strength which they can devote 
to church work. If these volunteer workers labor in factories 
or stores all week for long hours, at a rapid pace, and under 
unwholesome conditions, they cannot bring the same physical 
and mental elasticity to their church work. While youth and 
health last, they may manage; but when age approaches or 
ill health drains their strength, they have to husband their 
forces for the task of getting a living. They will henceforth 
come to church to be cheered and helped, and can no longer 
put forth much service. If a young woman is on her feet 
all day Saturday till late, her work in Sunday-schbol must be 
impaired by it. Thus the churches are concerned in the 
hours and conditions of labor. The exhaustion of the people 
drains the churches of their working force. 



300 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

Christian workers, to be effective, must also have some 
measure of trained intelligence, managing ability, and re- 
sourcefulness. Those professions which develop these 
qualities furnish the ablest church workers. The business 
manager, the doctor, the school principal, make the ideal 
Sunday-school superintendent or elder. In so far as our 
industrial life deprives the ordinary workers of all oppor- 
tunity for executive planning and reduces them to automatic 
parts of the machinery, it fails to develop their latent mental 
resources and thereby stunts their possibilities as Christian 
workers. Among the higher classes the churches can lay 
hold of minds trained by their daily work and press them 
into Christian service. Among the lower classes it has to 
take minds blunted by their daily work and itself train them. 
When the Church descends still lower in the social scale, it 
works on material that has almost no capacity for service. 
There the work falls back on a paid staff and officialism once 

tore reigns in religion. 

Thus the churches have an interest at stake in the pros-' 
perity, physical elasticity, mental efficiency, and leisure time 
of the people. \ As the modern factory and tenement stamp 
one generation after the other with the proletarian character, 
one of the most hopeful tendencies in the history of the Church 
will perforce be frustrated. Volunteer work will lessen, and 
the professional worker will carry the burden of work once 
more. 

rhe supply "Like priest, like people." The condition of the Church 
depends on the character of the ministry, and the condi- 
tion of the ministry depends on the social health of the 
people. 



7 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 30! 

The ministry is recruited from the sons of the middle class, 
from the families of farmers, small business men, and the 
better grade of artisans. Students for the ministry rarely 
come from the homes of the very rich or the very poor. The 
boys of the poor may have fine native ability and piety, but 
if they are early forced to work, their educational chances 
are slighter and their minds are likely to be blunted. The 
country and the smaller cities furnish a larger proportion of 
the supply than the large cities, because there the whole- 
some conditions of middle-class life persist longer. The gen- ^ 
eral shrinkage in the supply, which seems to be undeniable, 
is doubtless due to a combination of causes : theological 
unrest ; the glamour of wealth in business life ; the multi- 
plied openings for intellectual work and social service ; and 
the deterrent conditions existing in the ministry. But one 
chief cause for the shrinkage in the ministry must be the 
shrinkage of the class from which it is drawn. A spring will 
dry up if the rock formation is disturbed or removed within 
which the water collects. When the best elements of the 
country and village churches are drained off to the city ; when 
the home life in the cities is narrowed and withered ; when 
many of the most intelligent men of the middle classes have 
no children or very few of them is not so far reaching a so- 
cial condition sure to affect the supply of young men drawn 
from these social classes? 

The inequality of wealth has already lowered the spirit of 
the ministry. The most selfish church of wealthy people can 
offer a better salary and greater social advantages than the 
most generous church of working people. To get a warm 
berth, a man must get into the right stratum of society. 
Smoothness and courtly grace may count for more than 



3O2 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

spirituality and earnestness. Prophet'c vigor may even be 
a disqualifying virtue. It is hard to make a comparative 
judgment of so elusive a thing as the spirit of a profession, 
but it does seem that a spirit of anxiety, ambition, and self- 
advancement is gaining ground and sapping one of the noblest 
of all professions of its power and its happiness. When 
lawyers, doctors, teachers, journalists, and artists have been 
"commercialized" to their inner loss, is it likely that the 
ministry can escape? 

The chief reward of the ministry has always come to it in 
the affection and respect of the people. But our age is so 
drunk with the love of money that anything which does not 
pan out in cold cash has to take a back seat. Our newspapers 
constantly speak of college professors and ministers in a tone 
of patronizing condescension. The salaries of teachers are 
pitifully inadequate when compared with their value to the 
community. They turn boys and girls into nobler men and 
women ; a successful writer of advertisements may turn a lie 
into dollars ; clearly he deserves the higher pay. There have 
been times when the community had a truer judgment of 
comparative values and gave its spiritual leaders veneration 
and love. Our commercial system has begotten a fierce 
competitive thirst for wealth. It has concentrated all minds 
on money, and accordingly all callings which serve the in- 
tellectual and spiritual life have dropped in the relative im- 
portance and honor assigned to them. The ministry is one 
of them. It has lost its best perquisites. 

Most ministers are proletarians. They live from hand to 
mouth on their wages like other wage-earners and have no 
share in the wealth-producing capital of the nation. They 
may not share in the class-consciousness of the wage-workers, 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 303 

but they do share in their sufferings. They, too, know the 
bitterness of hunting for a job and finding a long line of ap- 
plicants ahead of them. Their tenure, too, has become in- 
secure; what used to be a life-position has become a rapid 
shifting. Committees naturally tend to use the same methods 
in hiring or dismissing a minister which are used in hiring 
or "sacking" any other employee. Ministers, too, find that 
old men are not wanted, and that when the buoyancy of their 
youth has been used up, they are put aside with no provision 
for their age. They, too, find that the trusts can advance 
prices much more easily than the wage-worker can advance 
his wage. Thus the minister is dragged down with his class, 
even though he does not recognize that he belongs to that 
class. 

Ill health, changes of belief, painful experiences in the 
pastorate, or inability to secure a position often make it seem 
desirable to a minister to earn his living in some other way. 
He casts his eye wistfully toward other professions. If there 
were an economical organization of the working ability of the 
community and a brisk demand for men, he might find an 
opportunity. If the labor market is overstocked, especially 
with elderly men, he finds himself shut up to the ministry and 
resumes his work there ; but now no longer with the old sense 
of free dedication, but with the consciousness of economic com- 
pulsion. If a man knows that he can leave, he may not want 
to leave. If he knows that he never can leave, he may yearn 
to leave and pull his oar like a galley-slave. For the spirit 
of the ministry it is desirable that the door of exit shall be 
wide open. The old idea of "once a priest, always a priest," 
is a relic of sacerdotal religion which ascribed an indelible 
character to the ordained man. Thus the independence and 



304 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

joy of the ministry is subtly affected by the condition of the 
labor market. There are probably few preachers who can, 
say that they have never been influenced by the fear of en* 
dangering their income when they shaped or delivered their 
message to the people. They, too, are " in bondage through 
fear." 

The Church Other organizations may conceivably be indifferent when 
erty. P V " confronted with the chronic or acute poverty of our cities, 
The Christian Church cannot. The very name of "Chris- 
tian" would turn into an indictment if it did not concern 
itself in the situation in some way. 

One answer to the challenge of the Christian spirit has been 
the organization of institutional church work. A church 
perhaps organizes a day-nursery or kindergarten; a play- 
ground for the children; a meeting-place for young people, 
or educational facilities for those who are ambitious. It 
tries to do for people who are living under abnormal condi- 
tions what these people under normal conditions ought to do 
for themselves. This saving helpfulness toward the poor 
must be distinguished sharply from the money-making efforts 
of some churches called institutional, which simply run a 
continuous sacred variety performance. 

Confront the Church of Christ with a homeless, playless, 
joyless, proletarian population, and that is the kind of work 
to which some Christian spirits will inevitably feel impelled. 
All honor to them ! But it puts a terrible burden on the 
Church. Institutional work is hard work and costly work. 
It requires a large plant and an expensive staff. It puts such 
a strain on the organizing ability and the sympathies of the 
workers that few can stand it long. The Church by the 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 305 

voluntary gifts and labors of a few here tries to furnish what 
the entire cooperative community ought to furnish. 

Few churches have the resources and leadership to under- 
take institutional work on a large scale, but most churches 
in large cities have some institutional features, and all pastors 
who are at all willing to do it, have institutional work thrust 
on them. They have to care for the poor. Those of us who 
passed through the last great industrial depression will never 
forget the procession of men out of work, out of clothes, out 
of shoes, and out of hope. They wore down our threshold, 
and they wore away our hearts. This is the stake of the 
churches in modern poverty. They are buried at times 
under a stream of human wreckage They are turned aside 
constantly from their more spiritual functions to "serve 
tables." They have a right, therefore, to inquire who is un- 
loading this burden of poverty and suffering upon them by 
underpaying, exhausting, and maiming the people. The good 
Samaritan did not go after the robbers with a shot-gun, but 
looked after the wounded and helpless man by the wayside. 
But if hundreds of good Samaritans travelling the same 
road should find thousands of bruised men groaning to them, 
they would not be such very good Samaritans if they 
did not organize a vigilance committee to stop the manu- 
facturing of wounded men. If they did not, presumably 
the asses who had to lug the wounded to the tavern would 
have the wisdom to inquire into the causes of their extra 
work. 

An architect might have a Parthenon before his mind's TheChurd 
eye, but unless he had quarries for the marble, he could not 
build it. A general might be a military genius, but if the rial. 
x 



300 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

recruits furnished to him were puny, spiritless, and sick with 
vices, he could make no forced marches nor fight long-drawn 
battles. Every human institution needs fit human material, 
as well as a great idea. 

Clubs and fraternal societies can pick their material ; the * 
Church cannot. It must take in all sorts and conditions of 
men, and has a special call to seek out and draw in the most 
abandoned and lost. It has to take the material furnished 
to it by secular society. If that material is degenerate, the 
work of the Church is harder and there will be disastrous 
breaks. The lower the previous moral condition, the more 
frequent the backslidings. Native workers on foreign mis- 
sion fields sometimes relapse into the most revolting vices, 
because their bodies and imaginations were saturated with 
contamination. Rescue missions are familiar enough with 
the pitiful attempts of broken human beings to rally faith 
and hope, and with the swift collapse of the enfeebled will. 
If large sections of the population should approximate the 
condition of the hobo, what chance would there be for 
church work among them? 

Poverty does approximate that condition. It creates a 
character of its own. Constant underfeeding and frequent 
exhaustion make the physical tissues flabby and the brain 
prone to depression and vacillation, incapable of holding 
tenaciously to a distant aim. Mr. Jacob A. Riis says that 
street life develops in the child " dislike of regular work, 
physical incapability of sustained effort, misdirected love of 
adventure, gambling propensities, absence of energy, an un- 
trained will, carelessness of the happiness of others." This 
characterization will apply to the human material produced 
by modern city poverty everywhere. Religious faith is the 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 307 

capacity for taking long outlooks and holding all minor aims 
tinder control to reach the highest. Poverty teaches men to 
live from hand to mouth, and for the moment. The expe- 
rience of the Salvation Army shows that the poor need the 
strongest thrills of excitement and the most rigid discipline 
to arouse and hold them. The process of degeneration can 
be watched in acute form in times of industrial misery. If 
the decline of a social class is gradual, it escapes observation 
and only the final results appall us. 

There is an old maxim current among religious workers 
that times of national disaster are followed by a revival of 
religion, for trouble drives men to God. It is true that in 
the lower stages of religion, famine, pestilence, and earth- 
quake drove men to their temples and churches to plead 
with their angry gods. The priests of the temples would 
be likely to regard that as a hopeful revival of religion ; we 
should call it a superstitious panic. It is true also that every 
deep emotion of joy or sorrow acts like the earthquake at 
Philippi : it opens the gates of the soul in the darkness, and 
then great things may happen. Both the birth and the death 
of a child may turn the parents to nobler thoughtfulness. 
But long-continued economic helplessness of entire classes 
acts differently. That bears the soul down with a numbing 
sense of injustice and despair. Israel in Egypt "hearkened 
not unto Moses for anguish of spirit and for cruel bondage." 
The industrial depression of the 90*5 was followed by moral 
disintegration and religious lethargy. It took the churches 
longer than commerce to recover from that paralysis of hope- 
lessness. The maxim quoted is a relic of the ascetic view 
of life, which assumed that a man was closest to holiness 
when he was most emaciated and stripped of the joys of life. 



308 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

The churches may well pray like the wise man, "Give 
me neither poverty nor riches." l Poverty and luxury alike 
enervate the will and degenerate the human material for 
religion. Both create the love of idleness, vagrant habits, 
the dislike of self-restraint, and the inclination to indulge in 
the passing emotions. Ethical religion calls for precisely the 
opposite qualities. It is written large in the present condi- 
tions of the churches that they flourish best among people 
who have income enough for health and comfort, security 
enough for cheer and hope, and leisure enough to cultivate 
the higher sides of life. In London the type of religion rep" 
resented by the Free Churches thnves best in the middle-class 
parishes. 2 When a certain line of poverty has been passed, 
the churches lose their hold almost completely, in spite of 
the most heroic efforts of Christian men and women. A 
social system which lifts a small minority into great wealth, 
and submerges a great number in poverty, is thus directly 
hostile to the interests of the Church. A system which would 
distribute wealth with approximate fairness and equality 
would offer honest religion the best working chance. 

The hostile Human nature is the raw material for the Christian char- 
cotnmercial- acter. The spirit of Christ working in the human spirit is 
fc 01 - to elevate the aims, ennoble the motives, and intensify the 

affections. This process is never complete. The Christian 

is always but in the making. 
In the same way human society is the raw material for 

Christian society. The spirit of Christ is to hallow all the 

natural relations of men and give them a divine significance 

1 Proverbs 30. 8-9. 

1 Charles Booth, "Life and Labor in London," Third Series 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 309 

and value. This process, too, is never complete. The king- 
dom of God is always but coming. 

The situation is changed when the individual presents not 
only the obstacles of raw human nature, a will sluggish to 
good, a preference for pleasure rather than duty, and the 
clogging influence of evil habits, but a spirit and principles 
consciously hostile to the influence of Christianity, and sets 
defiant pride and selfishness against the gentleness and un- 
selfishness urged by the spirit of Jesus. 

In the same way the situation is changed when the social 
relations are dominated by a principle essentially hostile to 
the social conceptions of Christ. Then the condition is not 
that of a stubborn raw material yielding slowly to the higher 
fashioning force, but of two antagonistic spirits grappling 
for the mastery. The more such a hostile principle domi-- 
nates secular society, the more difficult will be the task of 
the Church when it tries to bring the Christ-spirit to victori- 
ous ascendency. 

Christianity bases all human relations on love, which is 
the equalizing and society-making impulse. The Golden 
Rule makes the swift instincts of self-preservation a rule by 
which we are to divine what we owe to our neighbor. Any- 
thing incompatible with love would stand indicted. Christ's 
way to greatness is through preeminent social service. Self- 
development is desirable because it helps us to serve the 
better. So far as the influence of the Christian spirit goes, 
it bows the egoism of the individual to the service of the 
community. It bids a man live his life for the kingdom of 
God. 

In urging the social duty of love, Christianity encounters 
the natural selfishness of human nature. But this is not a 



3io CHRiSTiANrry AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

hostile force. It is the instinct of self-preservation without 
which no child would survive. In a well-trained child the 
frank egoism of the baby is steadily modified by a growing 
sense of duty and of solidarity with the family and the little 
social group in which it moves. With the change of adoles- 
cence comes a powerful instinct of self-devotion to society. 
If the influence of Christianity accompanies the child during 
this development, and comes to conscious adoption in the 
adolescent period, it gives an immense reenforcement to the 
moralizing influence of the family and the school, and creates 
a character ready for real social life and service. If the largei 
human society into which the young man or woman then 
enters were adapted to continue the social training given in 
the family and the school; if the industrial life which moulds 
the adult set tasks foi conscious social service and inspired 
all workers with the sense of moral solidarity, social life 
would be so closely akin to the Christian conception that the 
task of Christianity would be easy, and comparative success 
would be within reach. 

Instead of that the young adult in the most plastic time 
of his development is immersed in an industrial life which 
largely tends to counteract and neutralize Christian teach- 
ing and training. Competitive industry and commerce are 
based on selfishness as the dominant instinct and duty, just 
as Christianity is based on love. It will outbuy and outsell 
its neighbor if it can. It tries to take his trade and grasp all 
visible sources of income in its own hand. The rule of trade, 
to buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest, simply 
means that a man must give as little to the other man and 
get as much from him as possible. This rule makes even 
honest competitive trade to say nothing of the immense 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 31! 

volume of more or less dishonest and rapacious trade an- 
tagonistic to Christian principles. The law of Christ, wher- 
ever it finds expression, reverses the law of trade. It bids 
us demand little for ourselves and give much service. A 
mother does not try to make as rich a living as possible, and 
to givo a minimum of service to her children. It would be 
a sorry teacher who would lie awake thinking how he could 
corner the market in education and give his students as 
small a chunk of information as possible from the pedagogic 
ice-wagon. The relation between a minister and a church 
is Christian only when the church pays him as well as it can 
afford to do, and he gives as whole-hearted and complete 
service as he can get out of himself. There are some pro- 
fessions and some social relations which are in the main 
dominated by the Christian conceptions of solidarity and 
service, and they are the only ones that arouse our enthusi- 
asm or win our love. Industry and commerce are not in 
that class. 

Commerce has moved away from the golden age of com- 
petition, when business men were like Ishmaels, with every 
man's hand against every other man. Large social groups 
are now working on the principle of cooperation in great 
corporations. That develops loyalty and human good-will 
within the cooperative group. But only within it. Every 
trust still has a lot of outsiders whom it has to fight and 
tame into submission. The wonderful mechanism of a great 
department store is not directed merely to mutual service, but 
also to the undoing of its competitors. A board of directors 
may feel a sense of coherence, modified by a fear of treach- 
ery, but when they turn toward their employees and toward 
the public, the sense of solidarity ends. It is probably fair to 



312 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

say that the great business world is not appreciably influenced 
in its daily struggles by the consciousness that it exists to 
serve mankind. A minister, a doctor, a teacher, an artist, a 
soldier, or a public official may forget it often and may turn 
traitor to the principle altogether ; but if he is good for any- 
thing, he will always feel the constraint of the higher principle 
upon him. In these callings it is comparatively easy for a 
man to realize the joy and strength of that principle, if he 
is only willing. In business life the constraint is all the 
other way. The social value of business is reserved for orna- 
mental purposes in after-dinner speeches. There all profes- 
sions claim to exist for the good of society. At a recent dinner 
of the Pawnbrokers' Association of New York, Mr. Abraham 
Levy spoke of the company as "the benefactors and bearers 
of the burdens of the poor," and doubtless he believed it 
when he said it. 

Every human institution creates a philosophy which hallows 
it to those who profit by it and allays the objections of those 
who are victimized by it. Thus M. PobicdoncstzefT, the 
great procurator of the Holy Synod in Russia, taught the 
sacredness of the autocracy and thereby strengthened the 
hands of those who kept the people down. Where alcoholism 
dominates the customs of a people, it weaves a halo around 
itself in the songs and social observances of the people, till 
joy and friendship seem to be inseparable from mild narcotic 
paralysis of the nerve centres. Similarly, the competitive 
industry has its own philosophy to justify the ways of busi- 
ness unto men. "Competition is the life of trade." "If 
every man will do the best for himself, he will thereby do 
the best for society." In short, the surest way to be unselfish 
is to look out for Number One. 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 313 

This individualistic philosophy was worked out at the end 
of the eighteenth century in order to cut away the artificial 
restraints inherited from a by-gone period of industry. The 
noblest thinkers enthusiastically believed that the unfettered 
operation of self-love would result in happy conditions for 
all. Experience has proved this a ghastly mistake. Scientific 
thought and practical statesmanship have abandoned the 
policy of unrestrained competition. The more enlightened 
business men, too, view it with moral uneasiness and a certain 
shame. The selfish hardness of business life is to them a 
sad fact, but they feel they must play the game according to 
the rules of the game. Yet as long as competitive commerce 
continues and is the source of profit in the business world, 
competitive selfishness will be defended as the true law of 
life. 

As soon as the competitive philosophy of life encounters 
an opposing philosophy in socialism, it is angrily insistent 
on its own righteousness. The same is the case when any 
attempt is made to urge the Christian law of life as obliga- 
tory for business as well as private life. " Don't mix busi- 
ness and religion." " Business is business." These common 
maxims express the consciousness that there is a radical 
divergence between the two domains of life, and that the 
Christian rules of conduct would forbid many common 
transactions of business and make success in it impossible. 
Thus life is cut into two halves, each governed by a law 
opposed to that of the other, and the law of Christ is denied 
even the opportunity to gain control of business. When a 
man lives a respectable and religious life in one part of the 
city and a life of vice in another part, he is said to live a 
double life. That is the heart-breaking condition forced 



314 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

upon Christian business men by the antagonism of Chris- 
tianity and competitive commerce. They have to try to do 
what Christ declares impossible : to serve God and mammon. 
It is no wonder that many try to maintain their faith in their 
own integrity of character by denying that business life is 
antagonistic to Christianity at all. But the rest of the com- 
munity judge differently. The moral sincerity of the most 
prominent members of the churches is impugned by the 
public, which has little sympathy with the tragic situation in 
which Christian business men find themselves. This deeply 
affects the moral prestige of the churches in the community. 
They are forced into the defensive instead of challenging the 
community to a higher standard of morals. 

When two moral principles arc thus forced into practical 
antagonism in daily life, the question is which will be the 
stronger. If the Church cannot Christianize commerce, 
commerce will commercialize the Church. When the 
churches buy and sell, they follow the usual methods and often 
drive hard bargains. When they hire and dismiss their em- 
ployees, they are coming more and more to use the methods 
of the labor market. In the teaching of the Church those ele- 
ments of the ethics of Jesus which are in antagonism to com- 
mercial life are toned down or unconsciously dropped out of 
sight. The Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus clearly 
defines the points of difference between his ethics and the 
current morality, is always praised reverently, but rarely 
taken seriously. Its edge is either blunted by an alleviating 
exegesis, or it is asserted that it is intended for the millennium 
and not for the present social life. When the religious teach- 
ings of Tolstoi first became known in the 8o's, they gave 
many of us a shock of surprise by asserting with the voice 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 315 

of faith that these were the obligatory and feasible laws of 
Christian conduct. Thus the principles of commerce affect ' 
the moral practice of the Church and silence its moral teach- 
ings in so far as they are antagonistic to business morality. 

We pointed out that there are some departments of life 
which are to some degree under the actual dominion of the 
Christian principle, especially personal morality, the family 
life, and neighborly social intercourse. But the principle in- 
corporated in business life is so deeply affecting the methods 
of action, the points of view, and the philosophy of life as 
preached in the press and in conversation, that it is en- 
croaching even on those realms of life which have hitherto 
been blessed by Christ's law. If Christianity cannot ad- 
vance, it will have to retreat even from the territory already 
claimed by it. 

If the Church cannot bring business under Christ's law ' 
of solidarity and service, it will find his law not merely 
neglected in practice, but flouted in theory. 'With many the 
Darwinian theory has proved a welcome justification of things 
as they are. It is right and fitting that thousands should 
perish to evolve the higher type of the modern business man. 
Those who are manifestly surviving in the present struggle 
for existence can console themselves with the thought that 
they are the fittest, and there is no contradicting the laws of 
the universe. Thus an atomistic philosophy crowds out the 
Christian faith in solidarity. The law of the cross is super- 
seded by the law of tooth and nail. It is not even ideal and 
desirable "to seek and to save the lost," because it keeps the 
weak and unfit alive. The philosophy of Nietzsche, which 
is deeply affecting the ethical thought of the modern world, 
scouts the Christian virtues as the qualities of slaves. It 



310 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

glorifies the strong man's self-assertion which treads undeB 
foot whatever hinders him from living out his life to the 
full. The philosophy regnant in any age is always the direct 
outgrowth of the sum total of life in that age. We view Neo- 
Platonism, for instance, as the necessary product of the third 
century. It is safe to say that students of some future cen- 
tury will establish an intimate causal connection between 
the industrial system which evolves the modern captain of 
industry and the philosophy of Nietzsche which justifies and 
glorifies him. 

On the other hand, among the masses who are being ground 
up in this evolutionary mill there will be a growing sense of 
the inexorable cruelty of natural law and a failing faith in 
the fundamental goodness of the universe. And if the uni- 
verse is not at bottom good, then the God who made it and 
who runs it is not good. Or perhaps there is no God at all. 
Goodness is folly. Force rules the world. Let us use what 
force we have, grasp what we can, and die. The Church in 
the past has been able to appeal to the general faith in a 
good and just God and to intensify that. If that half-un- 
conscious religion of the average man once gives way to a 
sullen materialism, there will be a permanent eclipse of the 
light of life among us. 

This is the stake of the Church in the social crisis. If one 
vast domain of life is dominated by principles antagonistic to 
the ethics of Christianity, it will inculcate habits and gener- 
ate ideas which will undermine the law of Christ in all othei 
domains of life and even deny the theoretical validity of it. 
(if the Church has not faith enough in the Christian law to 1 
assert its sovereignty over all relations of society, ipen will 
deny that it is a good and practicable law at all.) If the 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 317 

Church cannot conquer business, business will conquer the 
Church. 

The world is getting small. The shuttle of travel is weav- Christian 
ing back and forth. The Eist and the West have met. We an 
are camping in the front yard of the Hindu and Chinaman, m 
and they are peering over the fence into our back yard. 
Never before since Islam contended with Christendom for 
the mastery of the Mediterranean world has the Church 
been compelled to confront the non-Christian religions as 
now. 

The modern movement of foreign missions was the response 
of the spirit of Christ in the Church to the opportunity pre- 
sented by the new world-wide commerce From the outset 
the missionaries were put to it to explain what relation the 
white traders who sold the natives rum and brought them 
contagious diseases bore to the Jesus-religion taught by the 
missionaries. Trade made the way for missions, but traders 
also frustrated Christianity To-day commerce is bearing 
down on the non-Christian nations with relentless eagerness, 
breaking down their national independence at the cannon's 
mouth, breaking up their customs and tribal coherence, in- 
dustrializing them, atomizing them, and always making profit 
on them. At the same time the non-Christian peoples are 
getting intimate information about Christianity as it works 
in its own home. They travel through our slums and in- 
spect Packingtown. They see our poverty and our vice, our 
wealth and our heartlessness, and they like their own forms 
of misery rather better. "By their fruits ye shall know 
them," when applied to religions, reads, "By their civiliza- 
tions ye shall know them." The moral prestige of Christian 



318 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

civilization ought to be the most valuable stock in trade foi 
the foreign representatives of Christianity; instead of that it 
is forcing missionaries into an apologetic attitude. With all 
the faults that any one can point out in it, the foreign mission 
work of the modern Church is one of the most splendid ex- 
pressions of the Christ spirit in history, full of blessing for 
the Church at home, and fuller of historic importance for the 
future of mankind than any man can now foresee. Here the 
Church is really on the fighting-line. But here its sword-arm 
is paralyzed by the existence of a mass of unchristianized life 
in its own camp. Our industrial life antagonizes our Chris- 
tian gospel to non-Christian nations. 

It even reacts on the faith of the people at home. The 
Japanese war has furnished a demonstration of the moral 
qualities of a heathen nation in an object lesson so brilliant 
that it has gone home with all the world. It has shaken our 
confidence in the easy moral supremacy of Christianity. We 
are gaining in respect for the spiritual forces resident in other 
nations at the same time that we are getting an ever more 
vivid sense of our evils at home and of our impotence in deal- 
ing with them. 

Thus our unsettled social problems dog the footsteps of 
the Church wherever it goes. The social wrongs which we 
permit at home contradict our gospel abroad and debilitate 
our missionary enthusiasm at home. With what different con- 
fidence we should present the claims of our religion abroad 
if our missionaries went out from a nation of free men, living 
in social equality and organized fraternity ! 

To most thoughtful men to-day the social question is the 
absorbing intellectual problem of our time. To the working 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 319 

class it is more. Socialism is their class movement. The The Chun* 
great forward movement inaugurated by the French Revolu- forking 
tion was the movement of the business men who wrested 
political control from the feudal nobility and clergy. The 
wage-workers were then neither strong nor intelligent enough 
to force a readjustment of rights in their favor. That class 
is now in its birth-throes. The rest of us may be sym- 
pathetic onlookers and helpers, but to them it is a question 
of life and death. 

Every great movement which so profoundly stirs men, un- 
locks the depths of their religious nature, just as great ex- 
periences in our personal life make the individual susceptible 
to religious emotion. When the chaotic mass of humanity 
stirs to the throb of a new creative day, it always feels the 
spirit of God hovering over it. The large hope which then 
beckons men, the ideal of justice and humanity which in- 
spires them, the devotion and self-sacrifice to the cause 
which they exhibit these are in truth religious. 

As long as the people are still patriotic and religious, their 
first impulse is to march under the banner of their inherited 
religion, sure that it must be on their side. When the Ger- 
man peasants in 1525 set forth their simple and just de- 
mands in the celebrated " Twelve Articles," they based them 
all on the Bible and offered to surrender any demand which 
should be proved out of harmony with God's word. 1 Thus 
again the people of St. Petersburg on January 22, 1905, 
moved to the Winter Palace to present their petition to "the 
Little Father," led by a priest in the vestments of religion, 
and bearing before them the portrait of the Czar and the 

! E Belfort Bax, "The Peasants' War in Germany"; Zimmennann, 
'Geschichte des Bauernkrieges." 



320 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

cross of Christ. In both cases the response to their petition 
was a massacre. 

It is humiliating to say that the confidence with which the 
people at the beginning of such risings have turned to their 
religion for moral backing has not been justified in the past. 
Luther had scant sympathy with the peasants at the outset, 
and as soon as they used force against the castles of the 
barons and the monasteries, he called for forcible repression 
in the most violent language. The pope, too, wrote a con- 
gratulatory letter to those who had been most active in re- 
pressing the movement. The state Church in Russia is cer- 
tainly not on the side of the revolution, though many of her 
priests may be. The churches in Europe were almost uni- 
versally hostile to the French Revolution. 

When the people find their aspirations opposed and re- 
pudiated by their churches, they turn away chilled or angry. 
It is then a question whether the discipline of the Church is 
sufficiently strong to turn the people back from the popular 
movement and retain them in obedience to the Church. 
That is the problem which the Roman Catholic Church is 
now confronting in its opposition to socialism. It is trying 
to quarantine the Catholic workingmen in organizations of 
their own and to keep them immune from the bacillus of 
socialism. It is far fitter for such paternal repression than 
the Protestant churches, but its ultimate success is dubious. 
The mass of the people are more likely to sweep on and away 
from churchly religion. When the dearest ethical convic- 
tions of the people in such a crisis are brought into collision 
with organized religion, the result is sad for the people and 
disastrous for the Church. 

In Germany the process has worked out its conclusions 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 32! 

quite fully. For a long time the German state Church took 
no sympathetic interest in the socialist movement. It preached 
loyalty to the king, the divine necessity of social classes, sub- 
mission, and godly patience. A socialist was a heathen and 
a publican. It was generally denied that a man could be 
both a socialist and a Christian The socialists in their 
propaganda constantly encountered the Church as a spiritual 
and social force defending the existing social order, a bulwark 
of privilege and conservatism. They could gain a man for 
socialism only by undermining the authority of the Church 
over his mind. At the same time the leaders of the working 
class were drinking in eagerly the new results of natural 
science and philosophy, which at that time was baldly 
atheistic in Germany. " Science," as popularized in socialist 
literature and propaganda, was atheistic materialism. The 
German Social Democracy professes to be indifferent to 
religion and declares it a private affair, but actually it is a 
force hostile to religion. The tide of socialism has risen until 
now the Social Democratic Party is almost coextensive with 
the working class in the cities. Gradually the Church woke 
up. It tried to remedy the social misery of the people by 
charitable work and by allcviative legislation on the basis of 
the existing social order. In both directions splendid work 
has been done, but the allegiance of the people has not been 
regained. The clergy are now thoroughly awake to social 
questions. Many of them are more or less socialistic in their 
thought, but the State and the governing bodies of the Church 
have favored the social activity of the clergy only when it 
seemed likely to quiet the people and establish the existing 
order, and have been harshly repressive as soon as individual 
ministers went farther. 



322 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

The Church in past centuries repeatedly lost the respect 
and affections of the people by its corruptions and the op- 
pression which it sanctioned and intensified, but it was able 
to regain its hold when it repented and improved. It may be 
that in coming days the Church in Germany will regain its 
old influence in the life of the people. But the outlook is not 
sure. The old mediaeval reverence for the Church as the 
only mediator of salvation is gone, and the people are per- 
manently critical in spirit. Formerly the Church was able to 
envelop itself in awe by the shimmering mist of idealized 
history which it spread about its past services. The people 
are now educated beyond that. So the future is sombre. 
When a mountain-side is once denuded of vegetation and the 
roots of the trees no longer lace the soil together and hold the 
rain, the soil is washed down into the valleys. The rocks are 
again corroded and might form new soil, but as it is formed, 
it is again washed away. Because the rocks are bare, they 
stay bare. From him that hath not is taken even that which 
he hath. 

In our own country we are still at the parting of the ways. 
Our social movement is still in its earliest stages. The bitter- 
ness and anger of their fight has not eaten into the heart of the 
working classes as it has abroad. Many of them are still 
ready to make their fight in the name of God and Christ, 
though not of the Church. Populistic conventions used to 
recite the Lord's Prayer with deep feeling. The Single Tax 
movement utilized religious ideas freely. A Cooper Union 
meeting cheered Father McGlynn when he recited the words : 
"Thy kingdom come ! Thy will be done on earth !" Some 
of the favorite speakers and organizers of the socialists in our 
country are former Christian ministers, who use their power of 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 323 

ethical and religious appeal. In Labor Lyceums and similar 
gatherings, ministers are often invited as speakers, though 
perhaps quite as much in the hope of converting them as with 
a desire to hear what they have to say. The divorce between 
the new class movement and the old religion can still be 
averted. 

It is a hopeful fact that in our country the Church is so 
close to the common people. In many of the largest denomina- 
tions the churches are organized as pure democracies, and the 
people own and run them. Our ministry is not an heredi- 
tary pundit class, but most ministers have sprung from plain 
families and have worked for their living before they became 
ministers. The Church is not connected with the State and 
is not tainted, as in Europe, with the reputation of being a 
plain-clothes policeman to club the people into spiritual 
submission to the ruling powers. The churches of monar- 
chical countries have preached loyalty to the monarchy as an 
essential part of Christian character. The Church in America 
believes heartily in political democracy. But a Church 
which believes in political democracy can easily learn to be- 
lieve in industrial democracy as soon as it comprehends the 
connection. It has one foot in the people's camp. The type 
of Christianity prevailing in America was developed in the 
Puritan Revolution and has retained the spirit of its origin. 
It is radical, evangelical, and has the strong bent toward 
politics which Calvinism has everywhere had. American 
ministers naturally take a keen interest in public life, and, as 
well as they know, have tried to bring the religious forces to 
bear at least on some aspects of public affairs. 

As a result of these characteristics, the Christian Church 
in America is actually deeply affected by sympathy with the 



324 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

social movement. It stands now, at the very beginning of tht 
social movement in America, where the repentant Church of 
Germany stands after a generation of punishment by atheistic 
socialism. No other learned profession seems to be so open to 
socialist ideals as the ministry. Several years ago the New 
York Evening Post began to lament that the Church had gone 
over to socialism. 

Nevertheless the working class have not as yet gained the 
impression that the Church is a positive reenforccmcnt to 
them in their struggle. The impression is rather the other 
way. The eminent ministers whose utterances are most 
widely disseminated are usually the pastors of wealthy 
churches, and it is natural that they should echo the views 
taken by the friends with whom they are in sympathetic 
intercourse. Even those ministers who are intellectually 
interested in social problems are not always in sympathy with 
the immediate conflicts of the working class. They may 
take a lively interest in municipal reform or public ownership, 
and yet view dubiously the efforts to create a fighting organi- 
zation for labor or to end the wages system. We are of a 
different class and find it hard to sympathize with the class 
struggle of the wage-workers. 

In recent years many ministers have spoken frankly and 
boldly against the physical violence and brutality in con- 
nection with the great strikes, and against the denial of 
"the right to work." The former protest was made in the 
name of law and order, the latter in the name of liberty. No 
one who has ever seen the destruction of property in a riot, 
or the hounding of scabs by a mob, or the unleashing of the 
brute passions under the continued strain of a great industrial 
conflict, can help sympathizing with both contentions. And 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 325 

yet it is probable that when posterity looks back on the 
struggles of our day, it will judge that the righteous indigna- 
tion of these protests was directed against a cause that was 
more righteous still. 

Law is unspeakably precious. Order is the daughter of 
heaven. Yet in practice law and order are on the side of 
those in possession The men who are out can get in only 
through the disturbance of the order now prevailing. Those 
who in the past cried for law and order at any cost have 
throttled many a new-born child of justice. The aris- 
tocracy and bureaucracy of Russia are all for law and order, 
for law and order mean the old law and their own order. 
When the German peasants in 1525, betrayed and murdered 
by their aristocratic enemies who scorned to keep faith with 
the canaille, used violence in turn, Luther lost all his former 
faint sympathy with their fair demands, and called for order 
at any price. He said they had forfeited all rights, and sum- 
moned the forces of order to kill them as one would kill 
a mad dog They did it. The princes and barons, as- 
sured that they were not only protecting their class interest, 
but serving God in the bargain, slaughtered probably a hun- 
dred thousand, devastated entire districts, broke the back- 
bone of the German peasantry, and retarded the emancipa- 
tion of a great and worthy class by centuries. It was a very 
righteous impulse with Luther, and yet we count it one of the 
darkest stains on his life. That class which he opposed in 
the blind agony of its emancipation is now rising to intelli- 
gence and power, and is forgetting all his great merits for this 
sin committed against the common people. When violence 
was used during the Brooklyn street-car strike in 1895, an 
eminent minister of that city used words that sounded 



326 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

strangely like Luther's fearful invective, "If clubs will not 
do, then bayonets; if bayonets will not do, then lead; if 
bullets will not do, then Catling guns." He said he was 
willing to have the churches turned into hospitals to see order 
maintained. 

Freedom, too, is a holy word. The right to labor is one of 
the fundamental rights of man. But the cry of "the right to 
work" in our country has been raised mainly by the employers 
on behalf of those who were willing to help them in breaking 
down the resistance of organized labor. Their interest seems 
to be more in the right to be worked for than in the right to 
work. Strike-breaking is now a highly organized business, 
and those who do it rank morally with the mercenaries kept 
by princes to subdue their people. For those workmen who 
under the pressure of need break away from the coherence of 
their class and take the job which is calling for them, the 
situation is indeed terrible. The "scab" may be actuated 
by fine motives. He may feel loyalty to the employer whose 
bread he has long eaten ; he may be driven by the hunger and 
sickness of his family to provide bread for them at any cost ; 
or he may disapprove of this strike or of labor-unions in 
general. But he breaks down the solidarity of his class, and 
his class will judge him by that standard alone. 

There has never been a social class or group which has not 
punished to the best of its ability any one who betrayed the 
interests of the class, and which did not visit bitterer con- 
demnation on those actions which endangered its safety than 
on any others. A boy may steal apples and retain his moral 
standing with the other boys, but he must not "tell on a 
fellow." A cow-boy could sin all around the compass with 
impunity, but if he stole a horse, he was hung; the safety of 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 327 

his class depended on the security of their horses. Militarism 
winks at gambling and lewdness, but strikes relentlessly at 
insubordination. The governing powers in Russia have been 
lenient on many things, but they tolerated no opinions which 
undermined the moral foundations of the autocracy. While 
the clerical hierarchy was dominant, it punished the schis- 
matic and heretic, for he was the "scab" and "blackleg" of 
the Church. Each class regards the punishment visited on 
its traitors as just and natural, but regards with horror the 
class of offences punished by the opposing class and its 
methods of getting even with its traitors. These observa- 
tions have held true throughout human history, and have 
been deeply influential in the gradual formation of custom- 
ary and statutory law. 

The working class is now engaged in a great historic class 
struggle which is becoming ever more conscious and bitter. 
Their labor is all they have. Individually they are helpless. 
Their only hope for wresting better wages and conditions 
from the other side is in union of action. With infinite effort, 
with sacrifice of time, money, and chances of self-advance- 
ment, they create organizations which obey discipline and 
act together. Under certain circumstances any one breaking 
away from their discipline may secure exceptional terms for 
himself, but he does so at the expense of all the efforts which 
the union has put forth. Others are laboriously erecting a 
dam to raise the water level so that all may irrigate their 
fields and raise better crops. This man breaks through the 
dam to get an immediate supply for his own field. If we 
expect the working class to be patient with those who sell out 
the interest of their class for personal advantage, and lend 
themselves as tools to those who seek to undermine the 



328 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

fighting force of the organization, we demand of one of th6 
lowest groups of society a moral magnanimity and breadth 
of view which no other group has ever shown. The great 
sociologist Schaeffle, who was by no means a radical, said, 
"There is nothing more brutal than a moneyed aristocracy in 
persecuting those who dispute its dominion." The philosophy 
of all class movements is summed up in Kiplmg's Jungle 
Law: 1 

" Now this is the Law of the Jungle as old and as true as the sky; 
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall 

break it must die 
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and 

back; 
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is 

the Pack. 

Now these are the Laws of the Jungle, and many and mighty are they; 
But the head and the hoof of the Law, and the haunch and the hump is 

'Obey!'" 

In its struggle the working class becomes keenly conscious 
of the obstacles put in its way by the great institutions of 
society, the courts, the press, or the Church. It demands not 
only impartiality, but the kind of sympathy which will condone 
its mistakes and discern the justice of its cause in spite of the 
excesses of its followers. When our sympathies are enlisted, 
we develop a vast faculty for making excuses. If two dogs 
fight, our own dog is rarely the aggressor. Stealing peaches is 
a boyish prank when our boy does it, but petty larceny when 
that dratted boy of our neighbor does it. If the other political 
party grafts, it is a flagrant shame ; if our own party does it, 
we regret it politely or deny the fact. If Germany annexes a 
part of Africa, it is brutal aggression ; if England does it, she 

1 Kipling, "The Second Jungle Book." 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 329 

"fulfils her mission of civilization." If the business interests 
exclude the competition of foreign merchants by a protective 
tariff, it is a grand national policy ; if the trades-unions try to 
exclude the competition of non-union labor, it is a denial of 
the right to work and an outrage. 

The working class likes to get that kind of sympathy which 
will take a favorable view of its efforts and its mistakes, and 
a comprehension of the wrongs under which it suffers. In- 
stead of that the pulpit of late has given its most vigorous 
interest to the wrongs of those whom militant labor re- 
gards as traitors to its cause. It has been more concerned 
with the fact that some individuals were barred from a job 
by the unions, than with the fact that the entire wage-work- 
ing class is debarred from the land, from the tools of pro- 
duction, and from their fair share in the proceeds of produc- 
tion. 

It cannot well be denied that there is an increasing aliena- 
tion between the working class and the churches 1 That 
alienation is most complete wherever our industrial develop- 
ment has advanced farthest and has created a distinct class 
of wage-workers. Several causes have contributed. Many 
have dropped away because they cannot afford to take their 
share in the expensive maintenance of a church in a large city. 
Others because the tone, the spirit, the point of view in the 
churches, is that of another social class. The commercial 
and professional classes dominate the spiritual atmosphere 
in the large city churches. As the workingmen grow more 
class-conscious, they come to regard the business men as their 
antagonists and the possessing classes as exploiters who live 

1 On the extent and causes of this alienation see Richard Heath's " Captive 
City of God." 



330 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

on their labor, and they resent it when persons belonging to 
these classes address them with the tone of moral superiority. 
When ministers handle the labor question, they often seem 
to the working class partial against them even when the 
ministers think they are most impartial. Foreign workingmen 
bring with them the long-standing distrust for the clergy and 
the Church as tools of oppression which they have learned 
abroad, and they perpetuate that attitude here. The churches 
of America suffer for the sins of the churches abroad. The 
"scientific socialism" imported from older countries through 
its literature and its advocates is saturated with materialistic 
philosophy and is apt to create dislike and antagonism for the 
ideas and institutions of religion. 

Thus in spite of the favorable equipment of the Church 
in America there is imminent danger that the working people 
will pass from indifference to hostility, from religious enthu- 
siasm to anti-religious bitterness. That would be one of 
the most unspeakable calamities that could come upon the 
Church. If we would only take warning by the fate of the 
churches in Europe, we might avert the desolation that 
threatens us. We may well be glad that in nearly every 
city there are a few ministers who are known as the out- 
spoken friends of labor. Their fellow-ministers may regard 
them as radicals, lacking in balance, and very likely they 
are; but in the present situation they are among the most 
valuable servants of the Church. The workingmen see that 
there is at least a minority in the Church that champions 
their cause, and that fact helps to keep their judgment in 
hopeful suspense about the Church at large. Men who are 
just as one-sided in favor of capitalism pass as sane and 
conservative men. If the capitalist class have their court- 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 33! 

chaplains, it is only fair that the army of labor should have 
its army-chaplains who administer the consolations of reli- 
gion to militant labor. 

Thus the Church has a tremendous stake in the social 
crisis. It may try to maintain an attitude of neutrality, but 
neither side will permit it. If it is quiescent, it thereby throws 
its influence on the side of things as they are, and the class 
which aspires to a fitter place in the organization of society 
will feel the great spiritual force of the Church as a dead 
weight against it. If it loses the loyalty and trust of the 
working class, it loses the very class in which it originated, to 
which its founders belonged, and which has lifted it to power. 
If it becomes a religion of the upper classes, it condemns itself 
to a slow and comfortable death. Protestantism from the 
outset entered into an intimate alliance with the intelligence 
and wealth of the city population. As the cities grew in im- 
portance since the Reformation, as commerce overshadowed 
agriculture, and as the business class crowded the feudal 
aristocracy out of its leading position since the French 
Revolution, Protestantism throve with the class which had 
espoused it. It lifted its class, and its class lifted it. On the 
other hand, the Anabaptist movement in Germany, which 
propagated within the lower classes, was crushed with the 
class that bore its banner. If the present class struggle of the 
wage-workers is successful, and they become the dominant 
class of the future, any religious ideas and institutions which 
they now embrace in the heat of their struggle will rise to 
power with them, and any institution on which they turn 
their back is likely to find itself in the cold. The parable of 
the Wise and Foolish Virgins holds of entire nations and 
institutions as well as of individuals. 



332 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

The for- We have seen that the crisis of society is also the crisis ol 

tTthe** 11 the Church. The Church, too, feels the incipient paralysis 

Church. that is creeping upon our splendid Christian civilization 

through the unjust absorption of wealth on one side and the 

poverty of the people on the other. It cannot thrive when 

society decays. Its wealth, its independence, its ministry, 

its social hold, its spiritual authority, are threatened in a 

hundred ways. 

But on the other hand the present crisis presents one of the 
greatest opportunities for its own growth and development 
that have ever been offered to Christianity. The present 
historical situation is a high summons of the Eternal to enter 
on a larger duty, and thereby to inherit a larger life. 

In all the greatest forward movements of humanity, religion 
has been one of the driving forces. The dead weight of hoary 
institutions and the resistance of the caked and incrusted 
customs and ideas of the past are so great that unless the 
dormant energies of the people are awakened by moral en- 
thusiasm and religious faith, the old triumphs over the new. 
"Mighty Truth's yet mightier man-child" comes to the houl 
of birth, but there is no strength to bring forth. 

But in turn the greatest forward movements in religion 
have always taken place under the call of a great historical 
situation. Religious movements of the first magnitude are 
seldom purely religious in their origin and character. It is 
when nations throb with patriotic fervor, with social indig- 
nation, with the keen joy of new intellectual light, with the 
vastness and fear of untried conditions, when "the energy 
sublime of a century bursts full-blossomed on the thorny stem 
of Time," that religion, too, will rise to a new epoch in its 
existence. 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 333 

The Reformation of the sixteenth century is a classical 
illustration of this fact. The popular view which regards it 
first of all as a restoration of evangelical doctrine on the basis 
of the open Bible is almost wholly misleading. 1 The Refor- 
mation had been gathering headway for four years before 
Luther put his hand to the translation of the Bible, and then 
he had no clear foresight of the importance of that work. 
He nailed up his Theses on indulgences in 1517; but he did 
not begin to attack the doctrines of the Church till 1520. 
The prime cause of the Reformation was the smouldering 
anger of the Northern nations at their financial exploitation 
by the Italian papacy. Luther's great manifesto "to the 
Christian Nobility of Germany" was a tremendous social, 
educational, and ecclesiastical reform programme. He se- 
cured the support of the princes and nobles because he said 
with a thundering voice what all felt about the extortion and 
oppression of the ecclesiastical machine. At the Diet of 
Worms in 1521 nearly all the German estates were friendly 
to him, but they cared nothing for his doctrinal differences, 
and would have been best pleased if he had abjured them. 
The glorious years of the Lutheran Reformation were from 
1517 to 1525, when the whole nation was in commotion and 
a great revolutionary tidal wave seemed to be sweeping every 
class and every higher interest one step nearer to its ideal of 
life. The mightiest years in the life of Luther were those 
same years when he was the spokesman of an awakened 

*H C Lea, "Cambridge Modern History," I, 653 "The religious 
changes incident to the Reformation . were not the object sought, but 
the means for attaining that object . The overthrow of dogma was the 
only way to obtain permanent relief from the intolerable abuses of the exist- 
ing ecclesiastical system " This statement is extreme, but it is nearer the 
truth than the popular view. 



334 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

nation and grappled fearlessly with all the problems of 
human life. 1 Then came the reactionary turn in his life. 
He feared the spirit which he had helped to evoke. He dis- 
avowed the cause of the lower classes, distrusted the common 
people in Church and State, alienated their love and trust, 
and strengthened the wealth and power of the princes. By 
his theological dogmatism he repelled the men who had fought 
with him in the interests of education and science, and the 
Swiss reformers who differed with him on points of doctrine. 
He had been the leader of a nation ; now he became the head 
of a sect. The Lutheran Reformation had been most truly 
religious and creative when it embraced the whole of human 
life and enlisted the enthusiasm of all ideal men and move- 
ments. When it became "religious" in the narrower sense, 
it grew scholastic and spiny, quarrelsome, and impotent to 
awaken high enthusiasm and noble life. The sceptre of 
leadership passed from Lutheranism to Calvinism and to 
regenerated Catholicism. Calvinism had a far wider sphere 
of influence and a far deeper effect on the life of the na- 
tions than Lutheranism, because it continued to fuse reli- 
gious faith with the demand for political liberty and social 
justice. 

Similarly the religious reform movements of the Middle 
Ages were very closely connected with wider social causes: 
the changes created by the crusades, the consequent rise of 
commerce, the growth of luxury, the transition to a money 
basis in industry, the rise of the cities and the development of 
a new city proletariat. The movement of Francis of Assisi, 
of the Waldenses, of the Humiliati and Bons Hommes, were 
all inspired by democratic and communistic ideals. Wiclif 
1 Harnack, "History of Dogma," VII, 168 ff. 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 33$ 

ff as by far the greatest doctrinal reformer before the Reforma- 
tion ; but his eyes, too, were first opened to the doctrinal 
errors of the Roman Church by joining in a great national 
and patriotic movement against the alien domination and ex- 
tortion of the Church. The Bohemian revolt, made famous 
by the name of John Hus, was quite as much political and 
social as religious. Savonarola was a great democrat as well 
as a religious prophet. In his famous interview with the 
dying Lorenzo de ' Medici he made three demands as a con- 
dition for granting absolution. 1 Of the man he demanded a 
living faith in God 's mercy. Of the millionnaire he demanded 
restitution of his ill-gotten wealth. Of the political usurper 
he demanded the restoration of the liberties of the people of 
Florence. It is significant that the dying sinner found it easy 
to assent to the first, hard to consent to the second, and im- 
possible to concede the last. 

Nations rise to the climax of their life, and humanity 
unfolds its enormous dormant capacities only when religion 
enters into a living and inspiring relation to all the rest of 
human life. Under an impulse which was both religious and 
national the little Netherlands, hardly three million people 
on marshy soil, resisted the greatest and richest and most 
relentless power of Europe for eighty years, leaped to the van 
of European sea power, and became the leader in the great 
political coalitions of Europe. Under the same unity of 
religious and political enthusiasm Sweden, with only a mill- 
ion men on rocky and snow-bound soil, came to the rescue 
of Protestantism under Gustavus Adolphus and dictated 
terms to Europe. England would have been glad to help, 
but was held down by the selfish dynastic policy of James I. 
1 Villari, "Life and Times of Savonarola," I, 148 



330 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

When the religious enthusiasm of the English did get a grip 
on the political machinery, it made England great. It de- 
veloped an incomparable army, inspired a rough country 
gentleman to be the greatest ruler England has ever had, 
raised up such statesmen, and evoked such political ideas that 
England ever since has been carrying out the conceptions 
then born. The Puritan Revolution was the starting-point 
of modern democracy. 

Thus in past history religion has demonstrated its capacity 
to evoke the latent powers of humanity, and has in turn 
gained a fresh hold on men and rejuvenated its own life by 
supporting the high patriotic and social ambitions of an age. 
We, too, are in the midst of a vast historical movement. The 
historians of the future will rank it second to none. It is 
one of the tides in the affairs of men. If rightly directed, a 
little effort in this time of malleable heat will shape human- 
ity for good more than huge labor when the iron is cold. If 
Christianity would now add its moral force to the social and 
economic forces making for a nobler organization of society, 
it could render such help to the cause of justice and the people 
as would make this a proud page in the history of the Church 
for our sons to read. And in turn the sweep and thrill of such 
a great cause would lift the Church beyond its own narrow- 
ness. If it would stake its life in this cause of God, it would 
gain its life. If it follows the ways of profit and prudence, it 
will find its wisdom foolishness. At the beginning of the 
modern foreign missionary movement the Church was full of 
timid scruples about its call and its ability for such a work. 
To-day there are few things in the life of the Church which 
so inspire its finest sons and daughters and so intensify the 
Christ-spirit in its whole body as this movement in which it 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 337 

seems to scatter its strength abroad. If the social move- 
ment were undertaken in a similar spirit of religious faith 
and daring, it would have a similar power to rechristianize 
the Church. 

Individuals have long felt the enlarging and uplifting touch 
of the wider mission of the Church to society, and furnish a 
demonstration in their lives of the effect which such a Christ- 
like task would have on the Church at large. That quicken- 
ing effect is sometimes met in the most unexpected places. 
For instance, one of the influences which put fire and passion 
into the heart of Dwight L. Moody was the reading of the 
life of the Italian revolutionist Garibaldi. What movement 
would seem more purely religious than the Welsh Revival of 
1904? Yet it was kindled by a revelation of human democ- 
racy. At Hafod, on December 16, 1904, Evan Roberts told 
how the revival first reached him. One evening while at 
Loughor he walked from his home down to the post-office 
and on his way passed a gypsy woman, who saluted him with 
"Good evening, sir." Her use of "sir" in addressing a mere 
miner went straight to his heart, and he asked himself why 
he had not said "Good evening, madam," to the gypsy. 
" From that moment I felt that my heart was full of the divine 
love and that I could love the whole world, irrespective of 
color, creed, or nationality." * 

In our study of the Old Testament prophets we saw that 
it was their participation and leadership in a national and 
patriotic movement which first lifted the prophets of Israel 
above the level of the professional soothsayers and mantic 
clairvoyants of which the surrounding nations had plenty. 



a pamphlet published by the "Western Mail" of Cardiff, and 
giving current reports of the meetings in Wales. 
z 



338 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

It is still true that the wider social outlook is almost in- 
variably the condition for the prophetic gift. The men of 
our own age who have had something of the prophet's vision 
and power of language and inspiration have nearly all had 
the social enthusiasm and faith in the reconstructive power 
of Christianity. Maurice and Kingsley, Ruskin and Carlyle, 
Lamennais and Mazzini and Tolstoi, were true seers of God, 
and they made others see. On the other hand, individualistic 
evangelicalism, while rich in men of piety and evangelistic 
fervor, has been singularly poor in the prophetic gift. It has 
not even welcomed prophets when they did appear. It has 
had so little real understanding of the ways of God in con- 
temporary history that it has misinterpreted many of his 
greatest acts completely. The French Revolution has long 
been viewed with horror by it as an anti-Christian fury which 
could be explained only on the supposition of Satanic agencies. 
The mechanical schemes borrowed from Jewish apoca- 
lypticism are its nearest approach to an interpretation of 
current history from the point of view of God. Religious 
individualism lacks the triumphant faith in the possible sov- 
ereignty of Jesus Christ in all human affairs, and therefore 
it lacks the vision and the herald voice to see and proclaim 
his present conquest and enthronement. It lacks that vital 
interest in the total of human life which can create a united 
and harmonious and daring religious conception of the world. 
To those Christian men who have that to-day it has usually 
come either along the avenue of world-wide missions or of 
the social movement. 

" No religion gains by the lapse of time ; it only loses. Un- 
less new storms pass over it and cleanse it, it will be stifled 
in its own dry foliage." Men are so afraid of religious 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 339 

vagaries, and so little afraid of religious stagnation. Yet 
the religion of Jesus has less to fear from sitting down to 
meat with publicans and sinners than from the immaculate 
isolation of the Pharisees. It will take care of itself if mixed 
into the three measures of meal ; but if f the leaven is kept 
standing by itself, it will sour hopelessly. If the Church tries 
to confine itself to theology and the Bible, and refuses its 
larger mission to humanity, its theology will gradually be- 
come mythology and its Bible a closed book. "There is no 
creature more fatal than your pedant; safe as he esteems 
himself, the terriblest issues spring from him. Human crimes 
are many, but the crime of being deaf to God's voice, of being 
blind to all but parchments and antiquarian rubrics when the 
divine handwriting is abroad on the sky certainly there 
is no crime which the Supreme Powers do more terribly 
avenge 1" l 

The gospel, to have full power over an age, must be the 
highest expression of the moral and religious truths held by 
that age. If it lags behind and deals in outgrown concep- 
tions of life and duty, it will lose power over the ablest minds 
and the young men first, and gradually over all. In our 
thought to-day the social problems irresistibly take the lead. 
If the Church has no live and bold thought on this dominant 
question of modern life, its teaching authority on all other 
questions will dwindle and be despised. It cannot afford to 
have young men sniff the air as in a stuffy room when they 
enter the sphere of religious thought. When the world is in 
travail with a higher ideal of justice, the Church dare not ig- 
nore it if it would retain its moral leadership. On the other 

1 Carlyle, "Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches," Part VI, in the 
beginning. 



340 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

hand, if the Church does incorporate the new social terms 
in its synthesis of truth, they are certain to throw new light 
on all the older elements of its teaching. The conception of 
race sin and race salvation become comprehensible once more 
to those who have made the idea of social solidarity in good 
and evil a part of their thought. The law of sacrifice loses 
its arbitrary and mechanical aspect when we understand the 
vital union of all humanity. Individualistic Christianity has 
almost lost sight of the great idea of the kingdom of God, 
which was the inspiration and centre of the thought of Jesus, 
Social Christianity would once more enable us to understand 
the purpose and thought of Jesus and take the veil from our 
eyes when we read the synoptic gospels. 

The social crisis offers a great opportunity for the infusion 
of new life and power into the religious thought of the Church. 
It also offers the chance for progress in its life. When the 
broader social outlook widens the purpose of a Christian man 
beyond the increase of his church, he lifts up his eyes and 
sees that there are others who are at work for humanity be- 
sides his denomination. Common work for social welfare is 
the best common ground for the various religious bodies and 
the best training school for practical Christian unity. The 
strong movement for Christian union in our country has 
been largely prompted by the realization of social needs, and 
is led by men who have felt the attraction of the kingdom 
of God as something greater than any denomination and as 
the common object of all. Thus the divisions which were 
caused in the past by differences in dogma and church polity 
may perhaps be healed by unity of interest in social salva- 
tion. 

As we have seen, the industrial and commercial life to-day 



THE CHURCH AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT 34! 

is dominated by principles antagonistic to the fundamental 
principles of Christianity, and it is so difficult to live a Chris- 
tian life in the midst of it that few men even try. If pro- 
duction could be organized on a basis of cooperative fra- 
ternity ; if distribution could at least approximately be deter- 
mined by justice; if all men could be conscious that their 
labor contributed to the welfare of all and that their personal 
well-being was dependent on the prosperity of the Common- 
wealth; if predatory business and parasitic wealth ceased 
and all men lived only by their labor; if the luxury of un- 
earned wealth no longer made us all feverish with covetous- 
ness and a simpler life became the fashion ; if our time and 
strength were not used up either in getting a bare living or 
in amassing unusable wealth and we had more leisure for 
the higher pursuits of the mind and the soul then there 
might be a chance to live such a life of gentleness and brotherly 
kindness and tranquillity of heart as Jesus desired for men. 
It may be that the cooperative Commonwealth would give us 
the first chance in history to live a really Christian life with- 
out retiring from the world, and would make the Sermon on 
the Mount a philosophy of life feasible for all who care to 
try. 

This is the stake of the Church in the social crisis. If 
society continues to disintegrate and decay, the Church will 
be carried down with it. If the Church can rally such moral 
forces that injustice will be overcome and fresh red blood 
will course in a sounder social organism, it will itself rise to 
higher liberty and life. Doing the will of God it will have 
new visions of God. With a new message will come a new 
authority. If the salt lose its saltness, it will be trodden under 
foot. If the Church fulfils its prophetic functions, it may 



342 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

bear the prophet's reproach for a time, but it will have the 
prophet's vindication thereafter. 

The conviction has always been embedded in the heart of 
the Church that "the world " society as it is is evil and 
some time is to make way for a true human society in which 
the spirit of Jesus Christ shall rule. For fifteen hundred 
years those who desired to live a truly Christian life with- 
drew from the evil world to live a life apart. But the prin- 
ciple of such an ascetic departure from the world is dead in 
modern life. There are only two other possibilities. ( The 
Church must either condemn the world and seek to change 
it, or tolerate the world and conform to it. In the latter case 
it surrenders its holiness and its mission. The other possi- 
bility has never yet been tried with full faith on a large scale. 
All the leadings of God in contemporary history and all the 
promptings of Christ's spirit in our hearts urge us to make the 
trial. On this choice is staked the future of the Church. ' 



CHAPTER VH 

WHAT TO DO 

WE rest our case. We have seen that in the prophetic 
religion of the Old Testament and in the aims of Jesus 
Christ the reconstruction of the whole of human life in ac- 
cordance with the will of God and under the motive power 
of religion was the ruling purpose. Primitive Christianity, 
while under the fresh impulse of Jesus, was filled with social 
forces. In its later history the reconstructive capacities of 
Christianity were paralyzed by alien influences, but through 
the evolution of the Christian spirit in the Church it has now 
arrived at a stage in its development where it is fit and free 
for its largest social mission. At the same time Christian 
civilization has arrived at the great crisis of its history and 
is in the most urgent need of all moral power to overcome 
the wrongs which have throttled other nations and civiliza- 
tions. The Church, too, has its own power and future at 
stake in the issues of social development. Thus the will of 
God revealed in Christ and in the highest manifestations of 
the religious spirit, the call of human duty, and the motives 
of self-protection, alike summon Christian men singly and 
collectively to put their hands to the plough and not to look 
back till public morality shall be at least as much Chris- 
tianized as private morality now is. 

The question then immediately confronts us : What social 

343 



344 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

changes would be involved in such a religious reorganization 
of life? What institutions and practices of our present life 
would have to cease? What new elements would have to 
be embodied ? What social ideal should be the ultimate aim 
of Christian men, and what practical means and policies 
should they use for its attainment? 

These questions exceed the scope of this book. This clos- 
ing chapter will merely undertake to suggest in what ways 
the moral forces latent in Christian society can be aroused 
and mobilized for the progressive regeneration of social 
life, and in what chief directions these forces should be 
exerted. 

" No Thor- There are certain lines of endeavor which lead nowhere. 

oug are 0^^ men h ave a g am an( j a g a i n attempted to find the 
way out of the maze in these directions, but experience has 
set up the sign, "No Thoroughfare." 

One of these futile efforts is the attempt to make economic 
development revert to earlier stages. Christian men of con- 
servative spirit recoil from the swift pace and impersonal 
hugeness of modern industry and look back to the simpler 
processes and more personal contact between master and 
men as a better and more Christian social life. The per- 
sonal interest of the intelligent Christian middle class is likely 
to run in the same direction. Thus in our country we have 
the outcry of that class against the trusts and the department 
stores, and the insistence on returning to the simple competi- 
tion of small concerns. But it is safe to say that no such 
return would be permanent. These great industrial under- 
takings extend the area within which cooperation and the 
correlation of forces rule, and competition is no match foi 



WHAT TO DO 345 

cooperation. Our effort must rather be to preserve all the 
benefits which the elaboration of the productive machinery 
has worked out, but to make these benefits enrich the many 
instead of the few. Reform movements arising among the 
business class are often reactionary; they seek to revert to 
outgrown conditions and turn the shadow on the dial back- 
ward. Socialism is almost unique in accepting as inevitable 
and desirable the essential achievements of industrial organi- 
zation, but only as halfway stages toward a vaster and a 
far juster social system. 

For the same reasons it is futile to attempt to reform mod- 
ern society on biblical models. The principle underlying the 
Mosaic land system is wholly right. The spirit pervading 
the Hebrew laws protecting the laborer and the poor is so 
tender and noble that it puts us to shame. But these legal 
prescriptions were adjusted to an agricultural and stationary 
population, organized under patriarchal and tribal coherence, 
and they would be wholly unworkable under modern condi- 
tions. It is rather our business to catch the bold and humane 
spirit of the prophetic tribunes of the people and do as well 
in our day as they did in theirs. Nothing could be more 
valuable than to understand the social contents of the Bible 
in their historical setting, and press home on the Christian 
Church the essential purpose and direction of its own in- 
spired book. But here, too, it is true that "the letter killeth; 
it is the spirit that quickeneth." 

One of the most persistent mistakes of Christian men has 
been to postpone social regeneration to a future era to be 
inaugurated by the return of Christ. In former chapters the 
origin of this hope and its original beauty and power have 
been discussed. It was at the outset a triumphant assertion 



346 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

of faith against apparent impossibilities. It still enshrines 
the social hope of Christianity and concedes that some time 
the social life of men is to pass through a radical change and 
be ruled by Christ. But the element of postponement in it 
to-day means a lack of faith in the present power of Christ 
and paralyzes the religious initiative. It ignores the revela- 
tion of God contained in nineteen centuries of continuous 
history. It is careful not to see the long succession of men 
and churches and movements that staked all their hopes 
and all their chances of social improvement on this expecta- 
tion and were disappointed It is true that any regenera- 
tion of society can come only through the act of God and the 
presence of Christ; but God is now acting, and Christ is now 
here. To assert that means not less faith, but more It is 
true that any effort at social regeneration is dogged by per- 
petual relapses and doomed forever to fall short of its aim. 
But the same is true of our personal efforts to live a Christ- 
like life, it is true, also, of every local church, and of the his- 
tory of the Church at large Whatever argument would de- 
mand the postponement of social regeneration to a future era 
will equally demand the postponement of personal holiness 
to a future life. We must have the faith of the apostolic 
Church in the triumph of Christ over the kingdoms of the 
world, plus the knowledge which nineteen centuries of his- 
tory have given to us Unless we add that knowledge, the 
faith of the apostles becomes our unbelief 

Another cul-de-sac of Christian endeavor is the organiza- 
tion of communistic colonies There is no reason why a 
number of Christian people should not live in commons or 
organize for cooperative production if they can hope to make 
their life more comfortable, more free from care, and more 



WHAT TO DO 347 

moral in its relations. But past experience does not show 
that such colonies served to Christianize social life at large. 
The example is not widely contagious, even if the colony is 
successful. If the experiment fails through any of a hun- 
dred practical causes, its failure is heralded as a convincing 
demonstration that competition is the only orthodox and 
successful basis of society. Settlements with some com- 
munistic features are likely to increase in the future as the 
ey( s of cultured people arc opened to the wastefulness and 
unhappiness of ordinary life, and they may be exceedingly 
useful if they gather like-minded men and women in groups, 
and thus intensify and clarify their convit lions by intercourse. 
But they will be influential on a large scale only if the ideas 
and experiences wrought out in these settlements find channels 
to run out freely into the general unregenerate life through 
books, newspapers, or lectures issuing from the settlement. 
In the main, the -alt of the earth will do its work best if it is 
not stored in casks by itself, but rubbed in evenly and gen- 
erously \\hcrc it is most needed. The mass of society will 
ponderously move an inch where a select colony might spurt 
a mile toward the future ; but the total gain in foot-pounds 
will be greater in the mass-movement. The cooperative 
stores m England and on the continent are a far more hope- 
ful and influential education in the cooperative principle than 
the communistic colonies have been, because they are built 
into the mass of the general life. 

If the Church should in the future really seek to Chris- 
tianize social life, it will almost certainly be tempted to make 
itself the chief agent and beneficiary of the process. Attempts 
will be made to organize ecclesiastical duplicates of fraternal 
insurance societies, cooperative undertakings, labor bureaus, 



348 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

etc. There will be Christian socialist parties in politics. 
The Church will claim to be the only agency through which 
social salvation can come. It will seek to keep the social 
movement under clerical control. This effort will be prompted 
partly by the desire to put its organized power at the service 
of the poor; partly by the fear of non-Christian or anti- 
Christian influences which may dominate social radicalism; 
and partly by the instinct of self-assertion, self -protection, and 
self-aggrandizement which resides in every social organiza- 
tion. Just as the desire to save individuals is now frequently 
vitiated by the anxiety to increase church membership, so 
the desire to save social life may be vitiated by the anxiety 
to keep the Church to the front. Those ecclesiastical bodies 
which have the strongest church-consciousness are most likely 
to insist that this work shall be done through them or not 
at all. The history of the social movement in Europe has 
furnished most interesting and significant demonstrations of 
this tendency. But it is full of peril not only to the Church, 
but to the social movement itself. It beclouds the social 
issues by ecclesiastical interests and jealousies. It subtly 
and unconsciously changes the aim from the salvation of 
the people to the salvation of the Church. The social move- 
ment could have no more powerful ally than religious enthu- 
siasm; it could have no more dangerous ally than ecclesi- 
asticism. If the Church truly desires to save the social life 
of the people, it must be content with inspiring the social 
movement with religious faith and daring, and it must not 
attempt to control and monopolize it for its own organiza- 
tion. If a man wants to give honest help, he must fill him- 
self with the spirit of Jesus and divest himself of the ecclesi- 
astical point of view. 



WHAT TO DO 349 

In personal religion the first requirement is to repent and Social re 
believe in the gospel, As long as a man is self-righteous 
and complacently satisfied with his moral attainments, there 
is no hope that he will enter into the higher development, 
and unless he has faith that a higher level of spiritual life is 
attainable, he will be lethargic and stationary. 

Social religion, too, demands repentance and faith : repent- 
ance for our social sins ; faith in the possibility of a new social 
order. As long as a man sees in our present society only a 
few inevitable abuses and recognizes no sin and evil deep- 
seated in the very constitution of the present order, he is still 
in a state of moral blindness and without conviction of sin. 
Those who believe in a better social order are often told that 
they do not know the sinfulness of the human heart. They 
could justly retort the charge on the men of the evangelical 
school. When the latter deal with public wrongs, they often 
exhibit a curious unfamiharity with the forms which sin 
assumes there, and sometimes reverently bow before one of 
the devil's spider-webs, praising it as one of the mighty works 
of God. Regeneration includes that a man must pass under 
the domination of the spirit of Christ, so that he will judge 
of life as Christ would judge of it. That means a revaluation 
of social values. Things that are now " exalted among men " 
must become "an abomination" to him because they are 
built on wrong and misery. Unless a man finds his judg- 
ment at least on some fundamental questions in opposition 
to the current ideas of the age, he is still a child of this world 
and has not " tasted the powers of the coming age." He 
will have to repent and believe if he wants to be a Christian 
in the full sense of the world. 

No man can help the people until he is himself free from 



350 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

the spell which the present order has cast over our moral 
judgment. We have repeatedly pointed out that every social 
institution weaves a protecting integument of glossy idealiza- 
tion about itself like a colony of tent-caterpillars in an apple 
tree. For instance, wherever militarism rules, war is idealized 
by monuments and paintings, poetry and song. The stench 
of the hospitals and the maggots of the battle-field are passed 
in silence, and the imagination of the people is filled with 
waving plumes and the shout of charging columns. A 
Russian general thought Verestchagin's pictures ought to be 
destroyed because they disenchanted the people. If war is 
ever to be relegated to the limbo of outgrown barbarism, we 
must shake off its magic. When we comprehend how few 
wars have ever been fought for the sake of justice or the 
people; how personal spite, the ambition of military pro- 
fessionals, and the protection of capitalistic venture.-) are the 
real moving powers ; how the governing classes pour out the 
blood and wealth of nations for private ends and exude 
patriotic enthusiasm like a squid secreting ink to hide its 
retreat then the mythology of war will no longer bring us 
to our knees, and we shall fail to get drunk with the rest 
when martial intoxication sweeps the people off their feet. 

In the same way we shall have to see through the fictions 
of capitalism. We are assured that the poor are poor 
through their own fault; that rent and profits are the just 
dues of foresight and ability; that the immigrants are the 
cause of corruption in our city politics; that we cannot 
compete with foreign countries unless our working class will 
descend to the wages paid abroad. These are all very 
plausible assertions, but they are lies dressed up in truth. 
There is a great deal of conscious lying. Industrialism as a 



WHAT TO DO 351 

whole sends out deceptive prospectuses just like single cor- 
porations within it. But in the main these misleading theo- 
ries are the complacent self-deception of those who profit by 
present conditions and are loath to believe that their life is 
working harm. It is very rare for a man to condemn the 
means by which he makes a living, and we must simply make 
allowance for the warping influence of self-interest when he 
justifies himself and not believe him entirely. 1 In the early 
part of the nineteenth century, when tiny children in Eng- 
land were driven to the looms with whips, and women lost 
even the physical appearance of womanhood in the coal 
mines, the owners insisted that English industry would be 
ruined by the proposed reform laws, and doubtless they 
thought so. If men holding stock in traction companies 
assert that municipal ownership is un-American; if the ex- 
press companies say that parcels cannot be carried below 
their own amazing rates; if Mr. Baer in the midst of the 
coal strike assured a minister that "God in his infinite wis- 
dom had given control of the property interests of the coun- 
try" to him and his associates and they would do all things 
well we must simply allow for the warping effect of self- 
interest and pass on to the order of the day. Macaulay said 
that the doctrine of gravitation would not yet be accepted if 
it had interfered with vested interests. 

The greatest contribution which any man can make to the 
social movement is the contribution of a regenerated per- 
sonality, of a will which sets justice above policy and profit, 
and of an intellect emancipated from falsehood. Such a man 
will in some measure incarnate the principles of a higher 

1 John Graham Brooks, in the introductory chapter to "The Social 
Unrest," gives very interesting testimony to this fact. 



352 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

social order in his attitude to all questions and in all his rela 
tions to men, and will be a well-spring of regenerating in- 
fluences. If he speaks, his judgment will be a corrective 
force. If he listens, he will encourage the truth-teller and 
discourage the pedler of adulterated facts and maxims. If 
others lose heart, he will stay them with his inspired patience. 
If any new principle is to gam power in human history, it 
must take shape and life in individuals who have faith in it. 
The men of faith are the living spirits, the channels by which 
new truth and power from God enter humanity. To repent 
of our collective social sins, to have faith in the possibility 
and reality of a divine life in humanity, to submit the will to 
the purposes of the kingdom of God, to permit the divine 
inspiration to emancipate and clarify the moral insight 
this is the most intimate duty of the religious man who would 
help to build the coming Messianic era of mankind. 

Social The men who have worked out the new social Christianity 

uon 18C17a " ' m ^ir own thinking and living constitute a new type of 
Christian. At a religious convention it is easy to single out 
the speakers who have had a vision of the social redemption 
of humanity. No matter what subject they handle, they 
handle it with a different grasp. Their horizon is wider; 
their sympathy more catholic ; their faith more daring. It ib 
significant that they predominate when speakers are selected 
for important occasions. The men of natural ability and 
idealism are most receptive to the prophetic ideas now dawn- 
ing, and in turn these ideas enlarge and lift the mind that 
harbors them, so that even those who do not think that way 
pay the tribute of attention when they speak. 
But that type propagates itself. Mankind is so closely 



WHAT TO DO 353 

bound together that no man lives to himself, and no man is 
saved to himself alone. The new salvation is contagious. 
Those who have wrought out a faith that embraces the salva- 
tion of all human relations, make it easier for others to reach 
the same unification of all relations in the great aim of the 
kingdom of God. There will be a social evangelization, 
consciously and unconsciously. The believers will win other 
believers. 

The young men will respond, and there is no telling to 
what a young man will rise if the divine aim and impulse are 
in him. "L'homme, Phomme lui-memc est une quantity 
indeterminable." l Such young minds are " the hidden germs 
of fresh humanities, the hidden founts of gathering river- 
floods." After twenty or thirty years the young men who 
now embrace the new social faith will be in the controlling 
positions in society and will carry into practice some fractional 
part of the ideals of their youth. Few may preserve them 
uncontaminated to the end; they will compromise ; they may 
surrender; but they can never be quite the same again. The 
men and women of Brook Farm did not all remain faithful 
to their early idealism, but they have left their impress on the 
country for good. The revolutionists of 1848 did not all re- 
main revolutionists, but it is strange to see how many of the 
poets and statesmen and educators who had something of 
the divine afflatus in the latter half of the nineteenth century 
had nourished the revolutionary enthusiasm in their hearts 
in the earlier half of the century. 2 A surprising number of 

1 Galiani, quoted by Nathusius, " Die Mitarbeit der Kirche an der Losung 
der sozialen Frage," p 68. 

1 For instance, in Germany the poets Uhland, Freiligrath, and Kinkel, the 
philosophers Feuerbach and Ruge, the scientist Virchow, the musician 
Wagner. 

? A 



354 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

the men who are foremost in the present struggle in our own 
country to reconquer for the people some of the political 
powers and economic privileges bartered away by a former 
generation, have been under the influence of the movement 
led by Henry George and of the diluted socialism following 
that. 

It has always been recognized that the creation of regen- 
erate personalities, pledged to righteousness, is one of the 
most important services which the Church can render to 
social progress. But regeneration merely creates the will to 
do the right ; it does not define for a man what is right. That 
is defined for him in the main by the religious community 
whose ideas he accepts. If his church community demands 
total abstinence from liquor, he will consider that as part of 
the Christian life; if it sanctions slavery or polygamy, he 
will consider them good. While the Church was swayed by 
ascetic ideas, the dedication of the will to God meant sur- 
render to the monastic life. In the past the Church has 
largely connected the idea of religious duty with the service 
of the Church. It has made itself the summum bonum, the 
embodiment of all religious aims. To that extent it has 
monopolized for itself the power of devotion begotten in 
regenerated hearts and has not directed that incalculable 
force toward social and political affairs. Now that the idea 
of social salvation is taking hold of us, the realm of duty 
spread before a mind dedicating itself to God's service 
is becoming more inclusive. The social work of the 
Y. M. C. A. and Y. W. C. A., of the Salvation Army and the 
Volunteers of America, of the social settlements and institu- 
tional churches, show what is coming. It is significant that 
several new religious sects have embodied the social ideal in 



WHAT TO DO 355 

their religious aims. If the Church in any measure will lay 
consecrating hands on those who undertake social redemp- 
tion, it will hallow their work and give it religious dignity 
and joy. And when politicians and social exploiters have to 
deal with the stubborn courage of men who pray about their 
politics, they will have a new factor to reckon with. 

The older conception of religion viewed as religious only 
what ministered to the souls of men or what served the 
Church. When a man attended the services of the Church, 
contributed money to its work, taught in Sunday-school, 
spoke to the unconverted, or visited the sick, he was doing 
religious work. The conscientiousness with which he did 
his daily work also had a religious quality On the other 
hand, the daily work itself, the ploughing, building, cobbling, 
or selling were secular, and the main output of his life was 
not directly a contribution to the kingdom of God, but merely 
the necessary method of getting a living for himself and his 
family. The ministry alone and a few allied callings had the 
uplifting consciousness of serving God in the total of daily 
work. A few professions were marked off as holy, just as 
in past stages of religion certain groves and temples were 
marked out as holy ground where God could be sought and 
served. 

If now we could have faith enough to believe that all 
human life can be filled with divine purpose ; that God saves 
not only the soul, but the whole of human life ; that anything 
which serves to make men healthy, intelligent, happy, and 
good is a service to the Father of men; that the kingdom 
of God is not bounded by the Church, but includes all hu- 
man relations then all professions would be hallowed and 
receive religious dignity. A man making a shoe or arguing 



35& CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

a law case or planting potatoes or teaching school, could fed 
that this was itself a contribution to the welfare of mankind, 
and indeed his main contribution to it. 

But such a view of our professional life would bring it 
under religious scrutiny. If a man's calling consisted in 
manufacturing or selling useless or harmful stuff, he would 
find himself unable to connect it with his religion. In so far 
as the energy of business life is expended in crowding out 
competitors, it would also be outside of the sanction of 
religion, and religious men would be compelled to consider 
how industry and commerce could be reorganized so that 
there would be a maximum of service to humanity and a 
minimum of antagonism between those who desire to serve it. 
As soon as religion will set the kingdom of God before it as 
the all-inclusive aim, and will define it so as to include all 
rightful relations among men, the awakened conscience will 
begin to turn its searchlight on the industrial and commercial 
life in detail, and will insist on eliminating all professions 
which harm instead of helping, and on coordinating all pro- 
ductive activities to secure a maximum of sen ice. That in 
itself would produce a quiet industrial revolution. 

Scatter through all classes and professions a large number 
of men and women whose eyes have had a vision of a true 
human society and who have faith in it and courage to stand 
against anything that contradicts it, and public opinion will 
have a new swiftness and tenacity in judging on right and 
wrong. The murder of the Armenians, the horrors of the 
Congo Free State, the ravages of the liquor traffic in Africa 
the peace movement, the protest against child labor in 
America, the movement for early closing of retail stores 
all these things arouse only a limited number of persons to 



WHAT TO DO 357 

active sympathy; the rest are lethargic It takes so long to 
"work up public sentiment," and even then it stops boiling 
as fast as a kettle of water taken off the fire. There are so 
many Christian people and such feeble sentiment on public 
wrongs. It is not because people are not good enough, but 
because their goodness has not been directed and educated 
in this direction The multiplication of socially enlightened 
Christians will serve the body of society much as a physical 
organism would be served if a complete and effective system 
of ganglia should be distributed where few of them existed. 
The social body needs moral mncrvation ; and the spread of 
men who combine religious faith, moral enthusiasm, and 
economic information, and apply the combined result to 
public morality, promises to create a moral sensitiveness 
never yet known. 

The new evangel of the kingdom of God will have to be The pulpn 
carried into the common consciousness of Christendom by c 



the personal faith and testimony of the ordinary Christian question. 
man. It is less connected with the ministrations of the 
Church and therefore will be less the business of the pro- 
fessional ministry than the old evangel of the saved soul It 
is a call to Christianize the everyday life, and the everyday 
man will have to pass on the call and make plain its mean- 
ing. But if the pulpit is willing to lend its immense power 
of proclamation and teaching, it will immeasurably speed the 
spread of the new conceptions. "With the assistance of the 
clergy everything in matters of social reforms is easy; with- 
out such help, or in spite of it, all is difficult and at times 
impossible." l 

1 Emile de Laveleye, "Protestantism and Catholicism in their Bearing 
upon the Liberty and Prosperity of Nations," p 56 



358 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

None can deny that the pulpit has the teaching function 
and that its obligation runs wherever a moral question can be 
raised. Those who think the institutional Church a depar- 
ture from the spiritual mission of the Church, must concede all 
the more that the Church should teach plainly on the moral 
causes and remedies of social misery. If the Church is not 
to deal with mass poverty by its organized work, its obliga- 
tion is all the greater to deal with it by the sword of the word. 
Preaching on social questions is not an innovation in the 
history of the pulpit. The Church Fathers, the great medi- 
aeval preachers, the leaders of the Reformation all dealt 
more boldly with public questions than the classical sermon- 
izers of the generations just preceding ours 1 In all the 
history of preaching the pulpit has perhaps never been so 
silent in this direction as in the nineteenth century before 
the social movement began to affect Christian thought. 

Of all moral questions none are so pressing to-day as 
the questions of public morality. On none is there 
greater confusion of thought, less fixity of conviction, and 
greater need of clear thought and wise teaching What right 
have Christian ministers to back away from these questions 
and refuse to contribute whatever moral discernment God has 
given them ? 

It is true enough that social preaching has often been badly 
done. It has often been ignorant, bitter, partisan, and non- 
religious. But if it has been done badly by the few who 
stood alone in attempting it, that is all the more reason why 
all should develop greater wisdom by common experience. 

There are preachers who undertake to discuss the largest 
social questions with the air of a specialist and the knowledge 

1 Nathusius, "Mitarbeit der Kirche," p 487. 



WHAT TO DO 3S9 

of a tyro. I knew a man who preached a course of sermons 
on social questions after reading his first book on the subject 
He may have been equally rash in discussing the ways of the 
Almighty, but God is patient and does not talk back Men 
are more sensitive when they hear a half -true dissection of the 
methods by which they get their living. If a lawyer mis- 
states the facts in court, the attorney for the other side will be 
eager to point out his error. If a minister talks foolishness in 
the pulpit, his hearers have to suffer in silence without the 
satisfaction of setting him right. He has a perilous im- 
munity from contradiction and for that very reason is in 
honor bound to be careful. In general, it is safe to advise a 
man who feels "the burden of the Lord" on social wrongs to 
go slowly and get adequate information, especially in political 
economy and the history of social institutions. It is more 
sensible in every sermon to show the larger application of the 
truth to social morality than to spill out the entire tub of his 
mind in a course of sermons on social subjects The former 
is also a severer test of his comprehension of the subject. On 
the other hand, he should not let the fire of the Lord cool 
down. If he delays utterance, it should be to speak the more 
forcibly and wisely when he does speak. He should not take 
counsel of his timidity nor wait till he is infallible. Those 
who hold a brief for vested wrongs are not overconscientious. 
Men who first begin to discuss social wrongs are likely to 
launch into personal invective against prominent individuals. 
This tendency is in part a product of our religious individual- 
ism. We have always been told that if only all individuals 
were regenerated and lived right, all social questions would be 
solved. Consequently when we see wrong done, we feel that 
it must be due to the personal wickedness of individuals. 



3&0 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

But the farther a man goes in his comprehension of the 
questions before us, the more will he realize that the great 
leaders of industry are not committing mischief for the fun of 
it, but that they arc themselves the victims of social forces. 
They are free only within very contracted limits. In under- 
paying and overworking his men, or in employing women 
and children, the man with kind intentions is pushed by the 
entire group to which he belongs In competition the most 
ruthless man sets the pace Corporate management elimi- 
nates personal sympathy and the individual sense of honor to 
a degree which many of us hardly understand The moral 
code of the business man i-> largely shaped for him by the 
moral code of his class If he bribes public officials, it is 
often hard to say if he is a corrupter of innocence or the 
victim of blackmail. If he breaks the law, it may be because 
the law is a formulation of outgrown conditions which has to 
be broken if commercial development is to make headway 

A business man may be the victim of evil hitherto done by 
all, or the cause of evil henceforth done by all lie may yield 
to the pressure of evil with alacrity because it offers him profit, 
or he may yield with a heavy heart because it seems the les- 
ser e\il of two between which he must choose By these ques- 
tions God will judge him But if man undertakes to judge 
him, he must do it in love and mercy and with self-accu- 
sation, because we have all jointly spun the fatal web of temp- 
tation in which the sinner is entangled. The community is 
particep\ cnmmis with the individual m almost every sin that 
is committed The girl who drifts into shame because no 
happy marriage is open to her; the boy who runs into youth- 
ful criminality because he has no out'et for his energies except 
the street , the great financial operator who organizes decep- 



WHAT TO DO 361 

tive moments in the stock market and fleeces the mass who are 
crazy for unearned gam they can justly turn against us all 
and say, "You have led us into temptation." 

It is not only unjust but unwise to make a prominent in- 
dividual the scapegoat for the sin of all If people are led to 
think that an evil is the personal product of one man or a 
small group of men their attention will be diverted from the 
deeper causes which produced these men and would have 
produced others of the same kind if these had never existed. 

Any preacher dealing with social questions is certain to be 
charged w ith partiality. The wider our social cleavage, the 
more difficult will it be to satisfy both sides. Nor is it his 
business to try trimming and straddling. He must seek to 
hew as straight as the moral law. Let others voice special 
interests, the minister of Jesus Christ must voice the mind of 
Jesus Christ His strength will lie in the high impartiality 
of moral insight and love to all 

But if he really follows the mind of Christ, he will be likely 
to take the side of the poor in most issues. The poor are 
likely to be the wronged Almost any man will concede that 
in past history the poor have been oppressed, and that in 
foreign countries they are now being oppressed. Wherever 
the situation is far enough away to allow us to be impartial, 
we see correctly. But that constitutes a presumption that 
the same situation exists in our own country The saying of 
Mirabeau is as true as any other historical maxim, "When 
the people have complained, the people have always been 
right " The strong have ample means of defending all their 
just interests and usually enough power left to guard their 
unjust interests too. Those who have been deprived of in- 
telligence, education, and property need such championship 



302 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

as the ministers of Jesus Christ can give them, and any desire 
to pardon and excuse should be exercised on their behalf. 

As things are, a minister will have to make a conscious 
effort if he is to be fair to the poor. The daily press, public 
opinion, custom, literature, orthodox economic science, and 
nearly all the forces which shape thought, are on the side of 
things as they are. Unless a minister consciously puts him- 
self into contact with the working classes by attending their 
meetings and reading their literature, he will assume that he 
is judging fairly, whereas he has never heard more than one 
side. If he attends the dinners of the Chamber of Commerce, 
he must take socialist street meetings as an antidote. So- 
cialism has fully as much claim on his intellect as Robert 
Browning. 

If a man follows the mind of Jesus Christ in his judgments, 
he will have to appear partial in a social world which is by no 
means built on a line with the mind of Christ. It is a differ- 
ent matter entirely for a minister to follow the mind of a 
political party and make himself liable to the charge of 
partisanship. It may happen at long intervals in the history 
of a nation that a political party so thoroughly embodies the 
righteous instincts of the nation that its cause is almost 
identified with the triumph of justice. In such a juncture a 
minister may wisely decide that he must throw his influence 
publicly with that party and risk a loss of influence in other 
directions. But it is questionable if that situation has con- 
fronted ministers in our country these many years. A man 
may well doubt if the machinery of our great parties has 
ground out social progress or ground it up, and whether 
party loyalty has propagated patriotism or poisoned it. 

A minister has no business to be the megaphone of a politi- 



WHAT TO DO 363 

cal party and its catchwords. He should rather be the mas- 
ter of politics by creating the issues which parties will have 
to espouse. Questions are usually discussed a long time be- 
fore they become political issues. Old political parties are 
controlled by conservative forces and will take up progressive 
measures only when it is necessary to retain their followers 
or outbid another party. The time for the pulpit to do its 
best work is before a question is torn to tatters on the plat- 
form. A Christian preacher should have the prophetic 
insight which discerns and champions the right before others 
see it. If he has honestly done that, he can afford to be 
silent when the "practical men" grumblingly enter to finish 
up the job which he has helped to lay out for them. Hail 
to the pioneers! The early work is the formative work. 
Embodying a moral conviction in law is the last stage of a 
moral propaganda. Laws do not create moral convictions; 
they merely recognize and enforce them. 

Moreover, there are important political questions which 
never become party issues. The eradication of tuberculosis, 
for instance, is a public task for the next decade. But the 
creation of public sanitariums for the infected, and the en- 
forcement of sanitary regulations for the prevention of the 
disease, will never become a party question. Strong pressure 
will be brought to bear on legislatures and public officials to 
protect the financial interests of tenement-house owners who 
propagate tuberculosis by their death-traps, but no party 
will dare openly to champion their cause. If the pulpit 
creates the public sentiment which will insist on the enact- 
ment and enforcement of such laws and ordinances, it will 
not be meddling with party politics. 

One of the most serious charges that can be raised against 



304 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

preaching on social questions is that it is unreligious. It it 
the business of a preacher to connect all that he thinks and 
says with the mind and will of God, to give the religious inter- 
pretation to all human relations and questions, and to infuse 
the divine sympathy and passion into all moral discussions. 
If he fails in that, he is to that extent not a minister of religion. 
It is the highest test of his influence if his pastoral visits, his 
chance conversations, and his pulpit teachings somehow help 
men and women to take the high and divine view of their past 
and their future, of their joys and their sorrows, of their 
labors and their pleasures. That test is justly applied to his 
teachings on social questions too. Others can talk from the 
point of view of economic and political expediency, does the 
minister talk from the point of view of the eternally true and 
right? 

In passing judgment on a preacher's work by that canon v. e 
shall have to remember, however, that religion and public 
questions have so long been divorced that it requires a strong 
and independent religious nature to carry the religious spirit 
freely into the discussion of public questions If a man can 
make his hearers feel that they are in thepresence of God when 
he discusses the condition of the working girls or the drift of 
the city administration, he gives proof of unusual qualities. 
It was evidence of religious genius when Jeremiah carried 
religion out of national life into the experiences of the suffering 
individual soul To-day it is evidence of spontaneous reli- 
gious power if a man can carry religion from private experience 
into national life. 

His hearers, too, are likely to mistake their own customs 
for the whole range of religion Because they have not been 
accustomed to hear such questions discussed in the pulpit, 



WHAT TO DO 363 

they feel that the preacher is dragging in alien and non- 
religious matters. When the "Evangelical movement" 
swept over the Church of England, and ministers once more 
preached personal repentance and conversion, Lord Mel- 
bourne is said to have risen from his pew and stalked down 
the aisle, angrily exclaiming, "Things have come to a pretty 
pass when religion is made to invade the sphere of private life." 

At any rate, social questions cannot be more non-religious 
than many of the things about which ministers have to talk 
in the pulpit. If it is religious to advocate rebuilding a 
church, why is it non-religious to advocate tearing down and 
rebuilding slum districts ? If it is religious to encourage the 
church to recarpet the aisles and cushion the seats for the feet 
and backs of the worshippers, why is it non-religious to speak 
of playgrounds for young feet and old-age pensions for aged 
backs > 

Social preaching has come under suspicion because experi- 
ence has shown that when a preacher begins to speak on 
social questions, he is apt to veer away from the established 
course and fly off on a tangent. The new ideas take such 
hold on him that all other Christian truth seems stale and 
outworn in comparison. His preaching becomes one-sided. 
He twangs on a harp of a single string, and it becomes a 
weariness. If he encounters coldness, he may shake the 
dust of the Church from his feet in witness that it has once 
more cast out its prophets. 

Such cases are held up as proof that social questions are 
forbidden ground. They are indeed profoundly pathetic. 
These men are the explorers who travel along the unblazed 
trails where in coming days the highways of the Church will 
run, and explorers are apt to leave their graves as way-marks 



366 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

for those who come after. It is easy enough to march 
steadily on a beaten road and in the rank and file of a regi- 
ment. If these social preachers were not so alone, they would 
not go astray as they do. If they found many other ministers 
thinking the same thoughts, they could exchange and correct 
their ideas, and the future would not seem so dark. Thus the 
guilt for their aberrations rests in part on all of us who have 
shirked our duty and lagged behind It may be that some 
of these men arc naturally unstable and self-confident. But 
that is the stuff of which pioneers are usually made. Our 
Western pioneers were the \ enturesome pick , the solid people 
stayed at home. Abraham, who \\ as the father of all men of 
faith, was also the father of pioneers, striking off into the un- 
known at the call of an inner \oicc, and perhaps some of his 
friends in Haran hinted that he was a rolling stone and " lacked 
common sense." It may be that God will find more virtue 
in the impetuous faults of these pioneers of social Christian- 
ity than in the faultless prudence of their critics. Balance 
was hardly the distinguishing quality of the Old Testament 
prophets, and yet they are commonly supposed to have been 
good for something. 

It is doubtless true that the interest in the social question 
is apt to overshadow the other aspects of religion. Absorbed 
in public questions, such men may forget to appeal to the 
individual soul for repentance and to comfort those in sor- 
row. That is a sore defect. The human soul with its guilt 
and its longing for holiness and deathless life is a permanent 
fact in religion, and no social perfection will quench its hunger 
for the living God. There was no chance for Christianizing 
public life on the island where Robinson Crusoe lived alone 
with his parrot and his cats, but when Crusoe began to read 



WHAT TO DO 367 

his Bible and won through lo repentance for his past and faith 
in God, it was a triumph of religion. 

There arc two great entities in human life, the human soul 
and the human race, and religion is to save both. The soul 
is to seek righteousness and eternal life; the race is to seek 
righteousness and the kingdom of God. The social preacher 
is apt to overlook the one. But the evangelical preacher has 
long overlooked the other. It is due to that protracted neglect 
that we are now deluged by the social problem in its pres- 
ent acute form. It is partly due to the same neglect that 
our churches are overwhelmingly feminine. Woman nur- 
tures the individual in the home, and God has equipped her 
with an intuithc insight into the problems of the individual 
life. Man's life faces the outward world, and his instincts 
and interests lie that way. Hence men crowd where public 
questions get downright discussion. Our individualistic re- 
ligion has helped to feminize our churches. A very pro- 
tracted onc-sidcdness in preaching has to be balanced up, and 
if some now go to the other extreme, those who have created 
the situation hardly have the right to cast the first stone. 

It seems likely that even after this present inequality of 
emphasis is balanced, some preachers will put more stress on 
the social aspects of religion. In that case we must apply 
Paul's large and tolerant principle, "There are diversities 
of gifts, but the same Spirit." Some by nature and training 
have the gift of dealing with individuals and the loving in- 
sight into personal needs ; others have the passionate interest 
in the larger life and its laws. The Church needs evange- 
lists and pastors, but it needs prophets too. 

If a minister uses the great teaching powers of the pulpit 
sanely and wisely to open the minds of the people to the 



368 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

moral importance of the social questions, he may be of the 
utmost usefulness in the present crisis. Intelligent men who 
live in the midst of social problems do not yet know that 
there is a social problem, just as one may pass among the 
noises and sights of a city street without noticing them. 1 If 
the minister can simply induce his more intelligent hearers to 
focus what is in their very field of vision, thereafter they can 
not help seeing it, and information will begin to collect auto- 
matically in their minds. The Church itself has riveted the 
attention of the people on other aspects of life hitherto 
and thereby has diverted their attention from the social prob- 
lems. It ought to make up for this. 

A minister mingling with both classes can act as an inter- 
preter to both. He can soften the increasing class hatred of 
the working class. He can infuse the spirit of moral enthusi- 
asm into the economic struggle of the dispossessed and lift it 
to something more than a " stomach question." On the other 
hand, among the well-to-do, he can strengthen the conscious- 
ness that the working people have a real grievance and so 
increase the disposition to make concessions in practical cases 
and check the inclination to resort to force for the suppression 
of discontent. If the ministry would awaken among the 
wealthy a sense of social compunction and moral uneasiness, 
that alone might save our nation from a revolutionary explo- 
sion. It would be of the utmost importance to us all if the 
inevitable readjustment could be secured by a continuous suc- 
cession of sensible demands on the one side and willing con- 
cessions on the other. We can see now that a little more 

'John Morley, in the "Life of Cobden": "Great economic and social 
forces flow with a tidal sweep over communities that are only half conscious 
of that which is befalling them." 



WHAT TO DO 369 

wisdom and justice on both sides might have found a peace- 
able solution for the great social problem of slavery. In- 
stead of that the country was plunged into the Civil War with 
its fearful cost in blood and wealth. We have been cursed for 
a generation with the legacy of sectional hatred, and the 
question of the status of the black race has not been solved 
even at such cost. If Pharaoh again hardens his heart, he 
will again have to weep for his first-born and be whelmed in 
the Red Sea. It is a question if we can rally enough moral 
insight and good-will to create a peaceable solution, or if the 
Bourbon spirit is to plunge our nation into a long-continued 
state of dissolution and anarchy which the mind shrinks from 
contemplating. The influence of the Christian ministry, if 
exercised in the spirit of Christian democracy, might be one 
of the most powerful solvents and the decisive influence for 
peace. 

The spiritual force of Christianity should be turned against The Chn 
the materialism and mammonism of our industrial and social 



order. Ue and 

property, 

If a man sacrifices his human dignity and self-respect to 
increase his income, or stunts his intellectual growth and his 
human affections to swell his bank account, he is to that ex- 
tent serving mammon and denying God. Likewise if he uses 
up and injures the life of his fellow-men to make money 
for himself, he serves mammon and denies God. But our 
industrial order does both. It makes property the end, and 
man the means to produce it. 

Man is treated as a thing to produce more things. Men 
are hired as hands and not as men. They are paid only 
enough to maintain their working capacity and not enough 

2B 



370 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

to develop their manhood. When their working force is 
exhausted, they are flung aside without consideration of their 
human needs. Jesus asked, "Is not a man more than a 
sheep ?" Our industry says "No." It is careful of its 
live stock and machinery, and careless of its human working 
force. It keeps its electrical engines immaculate in burnished 
cleanliness and lets its human dynamos sicken in dirt. In 
the 1 5th Assembly District in New York City, between loth 
and nth avenues, 1321 families in 1896 had three bath- 
tubs between them. Our industrial establishments are in- 
stitutions for the creation of dividends, and not for the foster- 
ing of human life. In all our public life the question of profit 
is put first. Pastor Stocker, in a speech on child and female 
labor in the German Reichstag, said: "We have put the 
question the wrong way. We have asked : How much child 
and female labor does industry need in order to flourish, 
to pay dividends, and to sell goods abroad? Whereas we 
ought to have asked : How ought industry to be organized in 
order to protect and foster the family, the human individual, 
and the Christian life ? " That simple reversal of the question 
marks the difference between the Christian conception of life 
and property and the mammonistic. 

" Life is more than food and raiment." More, too, than the 
apparatus which makes food and raiment. What is all the 
machinery of our industrial organization worth if it does not 
make human life healthful and happy ? But is it doing that ? 
Men are first of all men, folks, members of our human family. 
To view them first of all as labor force is civilized barbarism. 
It is the attitude of the exploiter. Yet unconsciously we have 
all been taught to take that attitude and talk of men as if they 
were horse-powers or volts. Our commercialism has tainted 



WHAT TO DO 371 

our sense of fundamental human verities and values We 
measure our national prosperity by pig-iron and steel instead 
of by the welfare of the people. In city affairs the property 
owners have more influence than the family owners. For 
instance, the pall of coal smoke hanging over our industrial 
cities is injurious to the eyes ; it predisposes to diseases of the 
respiratory organs ; it depresses the joy of living ; it multiplies 
the labor of housewives in cleaning and washing. But it 
continues because it would impose expense on business to in- 
stall smoke consumers or pay skilled stokers. If an agitation 
is begun to abolish the smoke nuisance, the telling argument 
is not that it inflicts injury on the mass of human life, but that 
the smoke "hurts business," and that it really "pays" to 
consume the wasted carbon. In political life one can con- 
stantly see the cause of human life pleading long and vainly 
for redress, like the widow before the unjust judge. Then 
suddenly comes the bass voice of Property, and all men stand 
with hat in hand. 

Our scientific political economy has long been an oracle of 
the false god. It has taught us to approach economic ques- 
tions from the point of view of goods and not of man. It 
tells us how wealth is produced and divided and consumed 
by man, and not how man's life and development can best 
be fostered by material wealth. It is significant that the dis- 
cussion of " Consumption" of wealth has been most neglected 
in political economy ; yet that is humanly the most impor- 
tant of all. Theology must become christocentric ; politi- 
cal economy must become anthropocentric. Man is Chris- 
tianized when he puts God before self; political economy 
will be Christianized when it puts man before wealth. 
Socialistic political economy does that. It is materialistic in 



372 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

its theory of human life and history, but it is humane in its 
aims, and to that extent is closer to Christianity than the 
orthodox science has been. 

It is the function of religion to teach the individual to value 
his soul more than his body, and his moral integrity more 
than his income. In the same way it is the function of 
religion to teach society to value human life more than 
property, and to value property only in so far as it forms the 
material basis for the higher development of human life. 
When life and property are in apparent collision, life must 
take precedence. This is not only Christian but prudent. 
When commercialism in its headlong greed deteriorates the 
mass of human life, it defeats its own covetousness by killing 
the goose that lays the golden egg. Humanity is that goose 
in more senses than one. It takes faith in the moral law 
to believe that this penny-wise craft is really suicidal folly, 
and to assert that wealth which uses up the people paves the 
way to beggary. Religious men have been cowed by the 
prevailing materialism and arrogant selfishness of our busi- 
ness world. They should have the courage of religious faith 
and assert that "man liveth not by bread alone," but by 
doing the will of God, and that the life of a nation "consisteth 
not in the abundance of things" which it produces, but in 
the way men live justly with one another and humbly with 
their God. 

The crea- When the social activity of the Church is discussed, it is 

toms^nT" usua % assumed that the churches are to influence legisla- 

institutions. tion and to watch over the execution of the laws. The 

churches are within their rights in doing both There are 

probably few denominations which would hesitate a moment 



WHAT TO DO 373 

to fling their full force on a legislature if the tenure of their 
property or the freedom of their church administration were 
threatened. If it is right to lobby in their own behalf, it 
cannot well be wrong to lobby on behalf 1 the people. 

But we have an exaggerated idea of the importance of 
laws. Our legislative bodies are the greatest law factories 
the world has ever seen. Our zest for legislation blinds us 
lo the subtle forces behind and beyond the hv/. Those in- 
fluences which really make and mar human happiness and 
greatness are beyond the reach of the law. The law can 
compel a man to support his wife, but it cannot compel him 
to love her, and what are ten dollars a week to a woman 
whose love lies in broken shards at her feet ? The law can 
compel a father to provide for his children and can interfere 
if he maltreats them, but it cannot compel him to give them 
that loving fatherly intercourse which puts backbone into a 
child forever. The law can keep neighbors from trespassing, 
but it cannot put neighborly courtesy and good-will into their 
relations. The State can establish public schools and hire 
teachers, but it cannot put enthusiasm and moral power into 
their work ; yet those are the qualities which distinguish the 
few true teachers to whom we look back in after years as the 
real makers of our lives. The highest qualities and influences 
are beyond the law and must be created elsewhere. 

The law is a moral agency, as effective and as rough as a 
policeman's club, sweeping in its operation and unable to 
adjust itself to individual needs and the finer shadings of 
moral life. It furnishes the stiff skeleton of public morality 
which supports the finer tissues, but these tissues must be 
deposited by other forces. The State is the outer court of 
the moral law; within stands the sanctuary of the Spirit. 



374 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

Religion creates morality, and morality then deposits a small 
part of its contents in written laws. The State can protect 
the existing morality and promote the coming morality, but 
the vital creative force of morality lies deeper. 

The law becomes impotent if it is not supported by a 
diffused, spontaneous moral impulse in the community If 
religion implants love, mutual helpfulness, and respect for the 
life and rights of others, there will be little left to do for the 
law and its physical force. The stronger the silent moral 
compulsion of the community, the less need for the physical 
compulsion of the State. If parents have to resort to physical 
punishment constantly, it furnishes presumptive evidence that 
their training has been defective in its moral factors. If we 
have to order out the militia frequently to quell riots and 
protect property, it constitutes a charge of inefficiency against 
the religious and educational institutions of the community. 

Thus it is clear that the Church has a large field for social 
activity before touching legislation. It cannot make laws, 
but it can make customs, and "quid leges sine moribus ?" Of 
what avail are laws without customs? Our two words, 
"morals" and "ethics," the one from the Latin and the other 
from the Greek, both mean that which is customary. There 
is a singular lack of appreciation in American thought for 
the importance of custom ; possibly because in our new and 
plastic life customs are less rigid and formative than any- 
where on earth. Yet our life, too, is ruled largely by un- 
enacted laws. Our helpfulness toward children and old 
people, our respect for womanhood and the consequent un- 
paralleled freedom of woman's social intercourse, the com- 
parative disappearance of profanity and obscenity from con- 
versation all this rests on custom and not on law, and 



WHAT TO DO 375 

these customs are in large part the product of purified modern 
religion. The disappearance of alcoholic liquors from the 
homes of great strata of our people is in most localities due 
to custom rather than law. Religion first demanded it, and 
educational, scientific, and economic motives have since re- 
enforced the custom. Religion first created the custom of 
Sunday rest and the law then protected it. The weekly rest 
day is a gift of religion to the people. If it was not already 
so firmly established in our life, it would be almost impossi- 
ble to wrest one full day from the whirl of modern com- 
mercialism. The law did not create Sunday rest; neither 
is it able to maintain its finer qualities. It can prohibit work, 
but it cannot prescribe how the day shall be spent. 

It is entirely feasible for the Church to mitigate the social 
hardships of the working classes by lending force to humane 
customs. Its help would make the Saturday half holiday in 
summer practicable. It could ease the strain of the Christmas 
shopping season. It could secure seats and rest rooms for 
the girls in the department stores. It could counteract the 
tendency of tenement owners to crowd the people. It could 
encourage employers in making a place for their aged em- 
ployees and discourage the early exploitation of children. A 
single frank and prayerful discussion of one of these ques- 
tions in a social meeting of the church or its societies would 
create more social morality and good custom than many 
columns in the newspapers. Such an activity would not 
solve the fundamental questions of capitalism, but it would 
ease the pressure a little and would save the people from 
deterioration, while the social movement is moving toward 
the larger solution. 

Good customs are perpetually in danger, and the Church 



370 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

can act as a conservative influence in guarding them agains\ 
hostile inroads. For instance, the custom which barred 
alcoholic drinks from respectable and educated homes is now 
being undermined by the influence of the idle upper class 
which needs stimulants and copies their use from foreign 
society, ana the Church should undertake a new temperance 
crusade with all the resources 01 advanced physiological and 
sociological science. The head of an important Eastern in- 
stitution a few years ago proposed to introduce beer in the 
social gatherings of students in order to make them more 
sociable. Such an innovation would not merely create the 
habit of moderate drinking in many young men, but would 
introduce a foreign custom into American life. Many of our 
public dinners are now wholly free from the flush of wine or 
beer. The excellence of American after-dinner speaking, and 
the prevalence of real humor and fun at our public dinners, 
are mainly due to the fact that both speaker and audience are 
in full control of their critical faculties and therefore demand 
fine intellectual work and are in condition to appreciate it. 
The alcoholic paralysis begins with the brain and lessens the 
capacity for self-scrutiny and self-restraint. An alcoholized 
audience will howl at anything unseemly and be too dull for 
anything really witty. Even if the students of that institu- 
tion should all stop drinking when they graduated, a lasting 
damage would be done to American college life if it became 
customary for the college community to pass into partial 
narcosis as a preparation for social enjoyment. Against all 
such corruptions of good custom the Church should do 
sentinel duty. 

Any permanent and useful advance in legislation is de- 
pendent on the previous creation of moral conviction and 



WHAT TO DO 377 

custom. It is a commonplace that a law cannot be enforced 
without the support of public opinion, and that an unenforced 
law breaks down the usefulness of all related laws and the 
reverence for law in general. If the law advances faster 
than the average moral sense, it becomes inoperative and 
harmful. The real advance, therefore, will have to come 
through those social forces which create and train the sense 
of right. The religious and educational forces in their total- 
ity are the real power that runs the cart uphill; the State can 
merely push a billet of wood under the wheels to keep it from 
rolling down again. Some of the gravest evils of our day 
are either not covered by enacted law or the law against them 
does not work. In such cases the forces which create active 
moral conviction are under accusation for neglect of duty. 
The process of guarding, creating, or strengthening useful 
institutions is similar to the process of creating good customs. 
It is a function in which religious sentiment and the organized 
Church can work freely. For instance, our public parks are 
an institution of the highest value to the physical and moral 
life of the cities. About fifty years ago no city in the United 
States had purchased an acre of land for park purposes. 
Mainly through the influence of public-spirited men, sup- 
ported by enlightened moral sentiment, parks have been 
created and are now not only increasing their acreage and 
their beauty, but their usefulness. They are beginning to 
offer sand-hills for the little children, swimming baths in 
summer, skating in winter, music on holidays, gymnastic 
apparatus, and open-air games. Instead of warning the peo- 
ple to "keep off the grass," they are bidding for the inflow 
of the people. Yet it is safe to say that every one of these 
advances cost some struggle and effort, and at every such 



378 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

moment of struggle a lift from the powerful shoulders of th 
organized religious community would be practically decisive 
The Hague Tribunal is an institution of far-reaching his- 
torical importance which has grown up under our eyes. Its 
real origin was in the hearts of idealists who supported their 
protest against war and armed peace by scientific reasoning. 
These ideas found lodgement in the mind of Czar Nicholas, 
and by the power of initiative vested in a great monarch he 
was able by a single manifesto to compel world-wide atten- 
tion to the question and force a theory into the field of prac- 
tical politics. But the suspicion and non-ideal conservatism 
of governments is so great that they would have let the move 
ment die still-born, if it had not awakened the moral en- 
thusiasm of the common people in those countries in which 
democracy had trained the people to act, and in which purified 
religion had stored the strongest ethical dynamic. English 
and American public sentiment were probably the decisive 
factor which made the first conference at the Hague more 
than a dress parade. The aim for which the Conference was 
really called, was not accomplished; the increase in arma- 
ments was not checked. Instead of that a permanent tri- 
bunal of international arbitration was created. For a time 
no use was made of it. Many made mock of this puny out- 
come of a movement which had been mistakenly heralded as 
a proposition for universal peace. Many religious journals 
sat on the seats of the scornful. Then another strong man 
with convictions put his hand on the idle machinery and set 
it in motion. President Roosevelt secured the reference of 
the "Pious Fund" dispute with Mexico and later the refer- 
ence of the Venezuelan disputes, and therewith the Hague 
Tribunal became an operative force in history. Andrew 



WHAT TO DO 379 

Carnegie, that one of our great millionnaires who has the 
strongest leaven of democratic idealism, has undertaken ta 
house the Tribunal in adequate splendor. It is safe to say 
that the institution will now perpetuate itself and gradually 
enlarge its functions. 

Here we have under our eye the various forces which co- 
operate to advance humanity; the dissemination of ideas by 
idealistic thinkers, the action of individuals strong by heredi- 
tary position, personal character or wealth, and the support 
of enlightened public opinion. History will do the rest. It 
will be immeasurably easier to assign additional powers to 
the Tribunal than to create it in the first place. These 
forces triumphed over the sullen reluctance and cynical doubt 
of some governments and the amused ridicule of many 
"practical men." Many religious people looked askance, 
because peace on earth can be established only by the coming 
of Christ. Others hailed it with a shout of triumph as an- 
other step in the coming of Christ. The future will prob- 
ably look back to it as the faint beginning of a new era in 
international relations and will marvel that any doubted the 
clear call of Christ at such a turning-point. 

" In the years that have been I have bound man closer to man 

And closer woman to woman ; 

And the stranger hath seen in a stranger his brother at last 

And a sister in eyes that were strange. 

In the years that shall be I will bind me nation to nation 

And shore unto shore," saith our God. 

" Lo 1 I am the burster of bonds and the breaker of barriers, 

I am he that shall free," saith the Lord. 

" For the lingering battle, the contest of ages is ending^ 

And victory followeth me." 1 

1 Stephen Philips. 



380 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

Such a cooperation of the religious and political forces ot 
the community furnishes the positive solution of the problem 
of Church and State. Historical experience has compelled 
us to separate Church and State because each can accomplish 
its special task best without the interference of the other. 
But they are not unrelated. Our life is not a mechanical 
duality, built in two air-tight compartments. Church and 
State both minister to something greater and larger than 
either, and they find their true relation in this unity of aim 
and service. When the State supports morality by legal con- 
straint, it cooperates with the voluntary moral power of the 
Church ; but if it should seek to control the organization and 
influence of the Church by appointing its officers or inter- 
fering with its teaching, it would tamper with the seedplot 
of moral progress. When the Church implants religious im- 
pulses toward righteousness and trains the moral convictions 
of the people, it cooperates with the State by creating the 
most delicate and valuable elements of social welfare and 
progress; but if it should enter into politics to get funds 
from the public treasury or police support for its doctrine 
and ritual, it would inject a divisive and corrosive force into 
political life. The machinery of Church and State must be 
kept separate, but the output of each must mingle with the 
other to make social life increasingly wholesome and normal. 
Church and State are alike but partial organizations of hu- 
manity for special ends. Together they serve what is greater 
than either : humanity. Their common aim is to transform 
humanity into the kingdom of God. 

Jesus in his teachings alluded with surprising frequency to 
Ihe use and abuse of intrusted wealth and power. In the 



WHAT TO DO 381 

parables of the talents and pounds * he evidently meant to stewardshij 
define all human ability and opportunity as a trust. His 
description of the head servant who is made confident by 
the continued absence of his master, tyrannizes over his sub- 
ordinates, and fattens his paunch on his master's property, 
is meant to show the temptation which besets all in authority 
to forget the responsibility that goes with power. 2 His por- 
trayal of the tricky steward who is to be dismissed for dis- 
honesty, but manages to make one more grand coup before 
his authority ends, not only shows the keen insight of Jesus 
into the ways of the grafter, but also shows that he regarded 
all men of wealth as stewards of the property they hold. 3 
The parable of the peasants who jointly rent a vineyard and 
then try to do their absent owner not only out of his rent, 
but out of the property itself, was meant by Jesus to condense 
and dramatize the whole history of the ruling class in Israel. 4 
The illustration of the fig tree which has had all possible 
advantages of soil and care without returning fruit, and which 
merely gets a year's reprieve through the hopeful pleading 
of the gardener, expresses the indignation of Jesus against 
the waste of intrusted opportunity. 5 The terrible invective 
against the scribes and Pharisees is directed against teachers 
who had misused their influence to darken truth and leaders 
who had treated their leadership as a chance to get profit 
and honor for themselves. 8 

The fact that Jesus in his diagnosis of wrong moral rela- 
tions so often puts his finger on trust abused and betrayed, 
is proof of his penetrating social insight. Nearly all powers 

'Matthew 25. 14-30; Luke 19. 11-27. 4 Matthew 21. 33-46. 
'Matthew 25. 45-51. B Luke 13. 6-9. 

8 Luke 16. 1-15. 8 Matthew 23. 



382 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

in society are essentially delegated powers. The more com- 
plex society becomes, the less will it be possible for the in- 
dividual to attend to all his needs himself, and the more will 
he have to intrust others with specialized functions and 
powers. When a savage killed an animal for food and 
dressed its hide for clothing, he knew what he was getting. 
When a man buys canned meat and a ready-made suit, he 
has to trust to the honesty of others for what he gets. When 
a man deposits money in a savings bank or pays an insurance 
premium, he exercises trust. When he engages a lawyer to 
conduct a suit or search a title, the lawyer is a steward of 
intrusted power. When he submits the body of his child to 
a surgeon's knife, or its intellect to a school-teacher, or its 
soul to a preacher, he trusts, and these professional men are 
his trustees. Our life is woven through with such relations. 
Trust is the foundation of all higher social life. Life is good 
and restful in the measure in which it is safe to trust. Life 
turns back to the haunting suspicion and fear of the savage 
when man can no longer safely trust man. 

On the other hand, the more complex society becomes, the 
more difficult is it to watch over the fidelity of all the trustees, 
and the greater is the temptation of a trustee or steward to 
divert the trust to his own use. A farming community in 
New England can watch how the selectmen of the township 
use their delegated powers. The ordinary citizen in our 
great cities does not understand the machinery of the govern- 
ment and has only a shadowy idea of what is really being 
done by public officers with his property and under his 
authority. He is, in effect, the absentee landlord whose 
servants are made bold to pilfer and cheat because the eye 
of the owner is not on them. 



WHAT TO DO 383 

Moreover, it is only when society arrives at wealth and 
power that "grafting" comes to pay. In a poor and savage 
community the individual has so little that the only way 
to get wealth without work is by downright robbery of the 
weak. As the average of wealth rises, and the aggregate of 
wealth becomes more enormous, a mere "rake-off" is enough 
to enrich the grafter. Hence in a savage community we have 
robbers and bandit chiefs ; in a civilized community we have 
a parasitic class who live in idleness and splendor by con- 
verting to their own use some kind of intrusted wealth or 
delegated power. "Grafting" is a highly perfected modern 
sin. Its essence is not stealing, but the corruption of a 
steward by one party and the betrayal of trust by a second 
party, who together profit at the expense of a third party, 
most frequently the public. 

The scale on which the parable of the wicked husbandmen 
has been reenacted in human history is stupendous. For 
instance, the king or duke in primitive Teutonic life was 
simply a capable man chosen for temporary leadership in 
war. This temporary power tended to become permanent. 
This permanent power tended to become hereditary. Tenure 
by capable service tended to become tenure "by divine right." 
The limited monarchy tended to shake off its limitations, tc 
suppress coordinate forces of government, and to become 
absolutism. When Louis XIV asserted, " L'Etat, c'est moi," 
the steward was calmly facing the owner and asserting that 
the owner existed by leave of the steward. The steward had 
embezzled the property so long that the relationship between 
owner and steward had been turned upside down in his mind. 
When Frederick the Great of Prussia said, on the other hand, 
that "the king is the foremost servant of the State," the royal 



384 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

philosopher felt the breath of the coming French Revolution 
fanning his brow. But the fact that so obvious a truth had 
to be stated at all is the most convincing proof that the 
stewardship of kings had long been a buried idea. The great 
movement of modern democracy, which is still so far from its 
goal, is simply an effort to bring one set of faithless stewards 
to terms and restore their power to the people from whom it 
was alienated. 

The great feudal system, under which mediaeval society 
lived and did business just as we live under capitalism, was 
fundamentally a systematized network of stewardship. A 
great noble was given a province by the crown on condition 
that he render certain services, usually the military protection 
of public peace and safety. He in turn conferred smaller 
domains on smaller lords under similar conditions. But just 
as in the case of the kings, the feudal lords tended to shake 
off the obligation incurred and to strengthen their hold on 
the power conferred. Feudal stewardship turned into owner- 
ship and then shifted its fundamental military duties and 
taxes on other classes of the population, until the people, who 
were the owners of the land, sat shivering on the doorsteps 
of the stewards and made obeisance when they were kicked. 

These are simply two illustrations on a large scale to show 
how vast have been the embezzlements of power from the 
people, and what a long historical struggle is necessary to 
oust the fraudulent steward and regain possession for the 
people. It would be easy to multiply the illustrations from 
history. It is more to the point to mark the same process 
to-day. 

When a public officer secures government positions for his 
relatives or for those who worked for his election, or succulent 



WHAT TO DO 385 

contracts for the patriotic business men who put up campaign 
funds, he uses the property of the people to pay for services 
rendered to himself. That is essentially embezzlement by 
an agent. When President Cleveland solemnly announced 
that "public office is a public trust," it was greeted as a 
noble assertion of a great principle. What would be the 
condition of mathematical science in a nation if the solemn 
announcement that "two times two is four" should be hailed 
as an enlightening utterance? The standard of honor in 
public life has fallen so low in our country that it is very 
difficult to secure the conviction of even flagrant offenders 
because the official world, by community of sin, has lost its 
capacity for moral indignation. When the law touches one 
man on the shoulder, a shiver of apprehension runs down the 
whole line. Our political parties, at least in their local ad- 
ministration, are largely held together by the cohesive neces- 
sities of common plunder. Democracy is paralyzed by the 
party managers. The owner is once more being ousted by 
the steward 

Our public service corporations exist because the com- 
munity grants them the use of public property and exercises 
the sovereign right of eminent domain on their behalf. They 
are stewards of public property and powers. But we have 
all seen in recent years that they have been very close to for- 
getting that they are stewards and have acted as if they were 
the owners. The present movement for rate-regulation, for 
instance, is simply an effort to assert the rights of the owner 
over the steward, and the aggrieved astonishment with which 
this movement has been met by the class that owns the rail- 
ways is interesting proof that the usual historical process was 
very far advanced. 

2C 



386 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

It has gone much farther in the case of mining rights. Oui 
laws have been exceedingly open-handed to those who dis- 
covered and developed the mineral resources of our country. 
But this generosity has always been based on the tacit as- 
sumption that it was a good thing for the entire community 
to have the minerals brought out and cheapened, and that 
the grantees of mining rights would hasten to bring them 
out and compete in selling them. Mining rights are a form 
of public franchise and are conditioned on public service. It 
is preposterous to think that an individual or a corporation 
can ever have absolute ownership in a vein of coal or copper. 
A mining company owns the holes in the ground, for it made 
the holes ; it does not own the coal, for it did not make the 
coal. The coal is the gift of God and belongs to the people. 
If the people intrust the mining of the coal to any one, it is 
a delegated right and can be recalled if the stewardship is 
abused. If mining rights are now used to keep coal in and 
make it dear, instead of bringing coal out and making it 
cheap, that would be ample moral ground for cancelling all 
rights. 

The present movement for federal and state interference 
and control over corporations, of which President Roosevelt 
is the most eminent exponent and leader, is an effort to re- 
assert the ownership and mastership of the people and to 
force these stewards of public powers back into the position 
of public servants. The next decade will probably show 
whether they are willing to take the position of well-paid 
servants and cease from ousting the owner. If not, the 
people will have to say, "Render the account of thy stew 
ardship, for thou canst no longer be steward." 

This movement is of far-reaching historical significance. 



WHAT TO DO 387 

It could be immensely quickened if the moral forces of the 
community would strengthen it by stiffening public sentiment 
on stewardship. The Church should turn whatever advanced 
moral insight it possesses, like a searchlight, on everything 
that claims to be ownership and scrutinize it to see if it is 
not in fact merely stewardship which has thrown off its 
responsibility and is running away with the property. It is 
said that all the cordage used by the English navy has a red 
thread running through the hemp, which proves that it is 
public property wherever it may be found. It would be in- 
teresting if the rigging of our private commercial craft could 
be overhauled to find the red thread of public ownership. 
We all draw our life, our safety, our intellect, our informa- 
tion, our organizing ability, from the common fund of the 
community, and we have not paid our obligations when we 
have settled our tax bill. The community could well turn 
on each of us and ask : "What hast thou that thou didst not 
receive ? But if thou didst receive it, why doest thou boast 
as if thou hadst not received it?" 

The doctrine of " Christian stewardship" has been strongly 
emphasized in church life in recent years, but mainly from 
the churchly point of view. It is a new formula designed to 
give our modern men of wealth a stronger sense of respon- 
sibility and to induce them to give more largely to the Church 
and its work. But if a rich man withdraws a million from 
commerce and gives it to a missionary society or a college, 
that simply shifts the money from one steward to another, 
and from one line of usefulness to another. The ecclesias- 
tical idea of stewardship needs to be intensified and broadened 
by the democratic idea. Every man who holds wealth or 
power is not only a steward of God, but a steward of the 



388 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

people. He derives it from the people and he holds it in 
trust for the people. If he converts it to his own use, the 
people can justly call him to account in the court of public 
opinion and in the courts of law. If the law has hitherto 
given an absolute title to certain forms of property and has 
neglected to insist on the ingredient of public property and 
rights involved in it, that does not settle the moral title in the 
least. The people may at any time challenge the title and 
resume its forgotten rights by more searching laws. The 
Christian Church could make a splendid contribution to the 
new social justice if it assisted in pointing out the latent 
public rights and in quickening the conscience of stewards 
who have forgotten their stewardship. In turn, the religious 
sense of stewardship would be reenforced by the increased 
sense of social obligation. Our laws and social institutions 
have so long taught men that their property is their own, 
and that they can do what they will with their own, that the 
Church has uphill work in teaching that they are not owners, 
but administrators. Our industrial individualism neutralizes 
the social consciousness created by Christianity. 

Solidarity It is assumed as almost self-evident in popular thought that 
communism is impracticable and inefficient, an antiquated 
method of the past or a dream of Utopian schemers, a system 
of society sure to impede economic development and to fetter 
individual liberty and initiative. Thus we flout what was 
the earliest basis of civilization for the immense majority of 
mankind and the moral ideal of Christendom during the 
greater part of its history. Communistic ownership and 
management of the fundamental means of production was 
the rule in primitive society, and large remnants of it have 



WHAT TO DO 389 

survived to our day. For fifteen centuries and more it was 
the common consent of Christendom that private property 
was due to sin, and that the ideal life involved fraternal 
sharing. The idea underlying the monastic life was that 
men left the sinful world and established an ideal community, 
and communism was an essential feature of every monastic 
establishment. The progressive heretical movements in the 
Middle Ages also usually involved an attempt to get closer 
to t'nu communistic ideal. It is a striking proof how deeply 
the ideas of the Church have always been affected by the 
current secular thought, that our modern individualism has 
been able to wipe this immemorial Christian social ideal out 
of the mind of the modern Church almost completely. 

The assumption that communistic ownership was a hin- 
drance to progress deserves very critical scrutiny. It is part 
of that method of writing history which exalted the doings 
of kings and slighted the life of the people. For the grasping 
arm of the strong, communistic institutions were indeed a 
most objectionable hindrance, but to the common man they 
were the strongest bulwark of his independence and vigor. 
Within the shelter of the old-fashioned village community, 
which constituted a social unit for military protection, 
economic production, morality, and religion, the individual 
could enjoy his life with some fearlessness. The peasant 
who stood alone was at the mercy of his lord. Primitive 
village communism was not freely abandoned as an ineffi- 
cient system, but was broken up by the covetousness of the 
strong and selfish members of the community, and by the 
encroachments of the upper classes who wrested the common 
pasture and forest and game from the peasant communities. 
Its disappearance nearly everywhere marked a decline in 



3QO CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

the prosperity and moral vigor of the peasantry and was felt 
by them to be a calamity and a step in their enslavement. 

But we need not go back into history to get a juster verdict 
on the practicability and usefulness of communism. We 
have the material right among us. Ask any moral teacher 
who is scouting communism and glorifying individualism, 
what social institutions to-day are most important for the 
moral education of mankind and most beneficent in their 
influence on human happiness, and he will probably reply 
promptly, "The home, the school, and the church." But 
these three are communistic institutions. The home is the 
source of most of our happiness and goodness, and in the 
home we live communistically. Each member of the family 
has some private property, clothes, letters, pictures, toys; 
but the rooms and the furniture in the main are common to 
all, and if one member needs the private property of another, 
there is ready sharing. The income of the members is more 
or less turned into a common fund; food is prepared and 
eaten in common ; the larger family undertakings are planned 
in common. The housewife is the manager of a successful 
communistic colony, and it is perhaps not accidental that our 
women, who move thus within a fraternal organization, are 
the chief stays of our Christianity. Similarly our public 
schools are supported on a purely communistic basis; those 
who have no children or whose children are grown up, are 
nevertheless taxed for the education of the children of 
the community. The desks, the books to some extent, the 
flowers and decorations, are common property, and it is the 
aim of the teachers to develop the communistic spirit in the 
children, though they may not call it by that name. Our 
churches, too, are voluntary communisms. A number of 



WHAT TO DO 391 

people get together, have a common building, common seats, 
common hymn-books and Bibles, support a pastor in com- 
mon, and worship, learn, work, and play in common. They 
are so little individualistic that they fairly urge others to 
come in and use their property. Private pews and similar 
encroachments of private property within this communistic 
institution are now generally condemned as contrary to the 
spirit of the Church, while every new step to widen the com- 
munistic serviceableness of the churches is greeted with a 
glow of enthusiasm. 

Thus the three great institutions on which we mainly de- 
pend to train the young to a moral life and to make us all 
good, wise, and happy, are essentially communistic, and their 
success and efficiency depend on the continued mastery of 
the spirit of solidarity and brotherhood within them. It is 
nothing short of funny to hear the very men who ceaselessly 
glorify the home, the school, and the church, turn around and 
abuse communism. 

It can fairly be maintained, too, that the State, another great 
moral agent, is communistic in its very nature. It is the 
organization by which the people administer their common 
property and attend to their common interests. It is safe to 
say that at least a fourth of the land in a modern city is owned 
by the city and communistically used for free streets and free 
parks. Our modern State is the outcome of a long develop- 
ment toward communism. Warfare and military defence 
were formerly the private affair of the nobles; they are now 
the business of the entire nation. Roads and bridges used 
to be owned largely by private persons or corporations, and 
toll charged for their use ; they are now communistic with 
rare exceptions. Putting out fires used to be left to private 



392 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

enterprise; to-day our fire departments are communistic 
Schools used to be private; they are now public. Great 
men formerly had private parks and admitted the public as 
a matter of favor; the people now have public parks and 
admit the great men as a matter of right. The right of 
jurisdiction was formerly often an appurtenance of the great 
landowners; it is now controlled by the people. The public 
spirit and foresight of one of the greatest of all Americans, 
Benjamin Franklin, early made the postal service of our coun- 
try a communistic institution of ever increasing magnitude 
and usefulness. In no case in which communistic ownership 
has firmly established itself is there any desire to recede from 
it. The unrest and dissatisfaction is all at those points where 
the State is not yet communistic. The water-works in most 
of our cities are owned and operated by the community, and 
there is never more than local and temporary dissatisfaction 
about this great necessity of life, because any genuine com- 
plaint by the people as users of water can be promptly 
remedied by the people as suppliers of water. On the other 
hand, the clamor of public complaint about the gas, the 
electric power and light, and the street railway service, which 
are commonly supplied by private companies, is incessant and 
increasing. While the railway lines were competing, they 
wasted on needless parallel roads enough capital to build 
a comfortable home for every family in the country. Now 
that they have nearly ceased to compete, the grievances 
of their monopoly are among the gravest problems of our 
national life. The competitive duplication of plant and 
labor by our express companies is folly, and their exorbitant 
charges are a drag on the economic welfare and the common 
comfort of our whole nation. This condition continues not 



WHAT TO DO 393 

because of their efficiency, but because of their sinister in- 
fluence on Congress. They are an economic anachronism. 

Thus the State, too, is essentially a communistic institution. 
It has voluntarily limited its functions and left many things 
to private initiative. The political philosophy of the nine- 
teenth century constantly preached to the State that the best 
State was that which governed least, just as the best child 
was that which moved least. Yet it has almost imperceptibly 
gathered to itself many of the functions which were formerly 
exercised by private undertakings, and there is no desire any- 
where to turn public education, fire protection, sanitation, or 
the supply of water over to private concerns. But the dis- 
tinctively modern utilities, which have been invented or 
perfected during the reign of capitalism and during the prev- 
alence of individualistic political theories, have been seized 
and appropriated by private concerns. The railways, the 
street railways, the telegraph and telephone, electric power 
and light, gas these are all modern. The swift hand of 
capitalism seized them and has exploited them to its immense 
profit. Other countries have long ago begun to draw these 
modern public necessities within the communistic functions 
of the Stpte. In our country a variety of causes, good and 
ba^, have combined to check that process; but the trend is 
manifestly in the direction of giving state communism a wider 
sweep hereafter. 

Private ownership is not a higher stage of social organiza- 
tion which has finally and forever superseded communism, 
but an intermediate and necessary stage of social evolution 
between two forms of communism. At a certain point in the 
development of property primitive communism becomes un- 
workable, and a higher form of communism has not yet been 



394 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

wrought out; consequently men manage as best they can 
with private ownership. To take a simple illustration: on 
the farm or in a country village the creek is common property 
for bathing purposes; the "swimmin'-hole" is the communis- 
tic bath-tub for all who want to refresh their cuticle. As the 
village grows, the march of the houses drives the bathers 
farther out; the pervasiveness of the "eternally feminine" 
robs the boys of their bath ; the primitive communism of the 
water ceases. Some families now are wealthy enough to 
install private bath-tubs and have the increased privilege of 
bathing all the year around. The bulk of the people in the 
cities have no bathing facilities at all. At last an agitation 
arises for a public bath. A beginning is made with enclosed 
river-baths, perhaps, or with shower-baths. At last a plunge- 
bath is built and opened summer and winter. The bathing 
instinct of the community revives and increasingly centres 
about the public bath. The communism of the water has 
returned. From the communistic swimming-hole to the mar- 
ble splendor of the communistic bath the way lay through 
the individualistic tub of the wealthy and the unwashed 
deprivations of the mass. In the same way there is no need 
of parks in primitive society, because all nature is open. As 
cities grow up, the country recedes ; a few are wealthy enough 
to surround their homes with lawns and trees ; the mass are 
shut off from nature and suffocate amid brick and asphalt. 
Then comes the new communal ownership and enjoyment of 
nature: first the small square in the city; then the large park 
on the outskirts; then the distant park on the seashore or 
by the river and lake ; and finally the state or national reser- 
vation where wild life is kept intact for those who want to 
revert to it. Thus we pass from communism to communism 



WHAT TO DO 395 

in our means of enjoyment, and that community will evidently 
be wisest which most quickly sees that the old and simple 
means of pleasure are passing, and will provide the corre- 
sponding means for the more complex and artificial commu- 
nity which is evolving. The longer it lingers in the era of 
private self-help, the longer will the plain people be deprived 
of their heritage, and the more completely will the wealthy 
minority preempt the means of enjoyment for themselves. 

Everywhere communism in new forms and on a vaster 
scale is coming back to us. The individualistic pump in 
the back yard is gone ; the city water- works are the modern 
counterpart of the communistic village well to which Rebekah 
and Rachel came to fill their water-jar. The huge irrigation 
scheme of our national government in the West is an en- 
larged duplicate of the tanks built by many a primitive com- 
munity. The railway train carrying people or supplies is a 
modernized form of the tribe breaking camp and carrying 
its women and children and cattle and tents to better grazing 
or hunting grounds. Compared with the old private vehicle, 
the railway carriage is a triumphant demonstration of com- 
munism. Almost the only private thing about our railways 
is the dividends. The competitive individualism of commerce 
is being restricted within ever narrower limits. State super- 
vision and control is a partial assertion of the supremacy of 
communistic interests. It is probably only a question of 
time when the private management of public necessities will 
be felt to be impossible and antiquated, and the community 
will begin to experiment seriously with the transportation of 
people and goods, and with the public supply of light and 
heat and cold. 

How far this trend toward communistic ownership is to go, 



396 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

the common sense of the future will have to determine. It 
is entirely misleading to frighten us with the idea that com- 
munism involves a complete abolition of private property. 
Even in the most individualistic society there is, as we have 
seen, a large ingredient of communism, and in the most 
socialistic society there will always be a large ingredient of 
private property. No one supposes that a man's toothbrush, 
his love-letters, or the shirt on his back would ever be com- 
mon property. Socialists are probably quite right in main- 
taining that the amount of private property per capita in a 
prosperous socialist community would be much larger than 
it is now. It seems unlikely even that all capital used in 
production will ever be communistic in ownership and opera- 
tion ; a socialistic State could easily afford to allow individuals 
to continue some private production, just as handicraft lingers 
now amid machine production. It will never be a question 
of having either private property absolute or communism 
absolute; it will always be a question of having more com- 
munism or less. 

The question then confronts Christian men singly and the 
Christian Church collectively, whether they will favor and 
aid this trend toward communism, or oppose it. Down to 
modern times, as we have seen, the universal judgment of 
Christian thought was in favor of communism as more in 
harmony with the genius of Christianity and with the classical 
precedents of its early social life. Simultaneously with the 
rise of capitalism that conviction began to fade out. Prot- 
estantism especially, by its intimate alliance with the grow- 
ing cities and the rising business class, has been individualistic 
in its theories of Christian society. The question is now 
how quickly Christian thought will realize that individualism 



WHAT TO DO 397 

is coming to be an inadequate and antiquated form jf social 
organization which must give place to a higher form of com- 
munistic organization, and how thoroughly it will compre- 
hend that this new communism will afford a far nobler social 
basis for the spiritual temple of Christianity. 

For there cannot really be any doubt that the spirit of 
Christianity has more affinity for a social system based on 
solidarity and human fraternity than for one based on selfish- 
ness and mutual antagonism. In competitive industry one 
man may profit through the ruin of others; in cooperative 
production the wealth of one man would depend on the grow- 
ing wealth of all. In competitive society each man strives 
for himself and his family only, and the sense of larger duties 
is attenuated and feeble; in communistic society no man 
could help realizing that he is part of a great organization, 
and that he owes it duty and loyalty. Competition tends to 
make good men selfish; cooperation would compel selfish 
men to develop public spirit. The moral and wholesome 
influences in society to-day proceed from the communistic 
organizations within it ; the divisive, anarchic, and destruc- 
tive influences which are racking our social body to-day pro- 
ceed from those realms of social life which are individualistic 
and competitive. Business life to-day is organized in grow- 
ing circles within which a certain amount of cooperation and 
mutual helpfulness exists, and to that extent it exerts a sound 
moral influence In so far as it is really competitive, it en- 
genders covetousness, cunning, hardness, selfish satisfaction 
in success, or resentment and despair in failure. It is a 
marvellous demonstration of the vitality of human goodness 
that a system so calculated to bring out the evil traits in us, 
till leaves so much human kindness and nobility alive. But 



398 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

the Christian temper of mind, the honest regard for the 
feelings and the welfare of others, the desire to make our life 
serve the common good, would get its first chance to control 
our social life in a society organized on the basis of solidarity 
and cooperation. 

It would seem, therefore, that one of the greatest services 
which Christianity could render to humanity in the throes of 
the present transition would be to aid those social forces 
which are making for the increase of communism. The 
Church should help public opinion to understand clearly the 
difference between the moral qualities of the competitive and 
the communistic principle, and enlist religious enthusiasm on 
behalf of that which is essentially Christian. Christian in- 
dividuals should strengthen and protect the communistic 
institutions already in existence in society and help them to 
extend their functions. For instance, the public schools can 
increasingly be made nuclei of common life for the district 
within which they are located, gathering the children for play 
out of school hours, and the adults for instruction, discussion, 
and social pleasure in the evenings. The usefulness of the 
public parks as centres of communal life can be immensely 
extended by encouraging and organizing the play of the chil- 
dren and by holding regular public festivals. Simply to in- 
duce the crowd listening to a band concert in the park to 
join in singing a patriotic song, would convert a mass of 
listening individuals into a social organism thrilled with a 
common joy and sensible of its cohesion. Public ownership 
of the great public utilities vould be desirable for the educa- 
tion it would give in solidarity, if for no other reason. Even 
if a street railway should be run at a loss for a time under 
city management, it would at least draw the people closei 



WHAT TO DO 399 

fogether by the sense of common proprietorship and would 
teach them to work better together to overcome the trouble. 
Every step taken in industrial life to give the employees some 
proprietary rights in the business, and anything placing own- 
ers and employees on a footing of human equality, would 
deserve commendation and help. 

The Christian spirit of fraternity should create fraternal 
social institutions, and the fraternal institutions may in turn 
be trusted to breed and spread the fraternal spirit. It is a 
most hopeful fact that the communistic features of our govern- 
ment are awakening in some public officials a whole-hearted 
and far-seeing devotion to the public welfare. A number of 
our public health officers have thrown themselves into the 
crusade against tuberculosis and infant mortality with a zeal 
more far-sighted and chivalrous than is usually called out in 
the ordinary doctor who cures patients on the individualistic 
plan. When men at the head of some department of city 
government realize the immense latent capacity of their de- 
partment to serve the people, they are fired with ambition to 
do what they see can be done. Their natural ambition to 
make themselves felt, to exert power and get honor, runs in 
the same direction with the public needs. Such men are still 
scarce, but they are a prophecy of the kind of character which 
may be created in a communistic society and of the power of 
enthusiastic work which may hereafter be summoned to the 
service of the people. The vast educational work done by 
some departments of our national government, for instance 
the Department of Agriculture, furnishes similar proof of 
what may be done when we abandon the policeman theory 
of government and adopt the family theory. Certainly it 
would be no betrayal of the Christian spirit to enter into a 



400 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

working alliance with this great tendency toward the creation 
of cooperative and communistic social institutions based on 
the broad principle of the brotherhood of men and the soli- 
darity of their interests. 

The upward The ideal of a fraternal organization of society is so splendid 
S 'therork- ^ at ^ * s to -d av enlisting the choicest young minds of the intel- 
mg class, lectual classes under its banner. Idealists everywhere are 
surrendering to it, especially those who are under the power 
of the ethical spirit of Christianity. The influence which 
these idealists exert in reenforcing the movement toward 
solidarity is beyond computation. They impregnate the 
popular mind with faith and enthusiasm. They furnish the 
watch-words and the intellectual backing of historical and 
scientific information. They supply devoted leaders and 
give a lofty sanction to the movement by their presence in it. 
They diminish the resistance of the upper classes among 
whom they spread their ideas. 

But we must not blink the fact that the idealists alone have 
never carried through any great social change. In vain they 
dash their fair ideas against the solid granite of human selfish- 
ness. The possessing classes are strong by mere possession 
long-continued. They control nearly all property. The law 
is on their side, for they have made it. They control the 
machinery of government and can use force under the form 
of law. Their self-interest makes them almost impervious 
to moral truth if it calls in question the sources from which 
they draw their income. In the past they have laughed at 
the idealists if they seemed harmless, or have suppressed 
them if they became troublesome. 
We Americans have a splendid moral optimism. We be- 



WHAT TO DO 4OI 

lieve that "truth is mighty and must prevail." "Truth 
crushed to earth shall rise again." "The blood of the 
martyrs is the seed of the Church." In the words of the 
great Anabaptist Balthasar Hubmaier, who attested his faith 
by martyrdom, "Truth is immortal; and though for a long 
time she be imprisoned, scourged, crowned with thorns, 
crucified and buried, she will yet rise victorious on the third 
day and will reign and triumph." That is a glorious faith. 
But the three days may be three centuries, and the murdered 
truth may never rise again in the nation that crucified it, but 
may come to victory in some other race and on another 
continent. The Peasants' Rising in 1525 in Germany em- 
bodied the social ideals of the common people; the Ana- 
baptist movement, which began simultaneously, expressed 
their religious aspirations; both were essentially noble and 
just ; both have been most amply justified by the later course 
of history; yet both were quenched in streams of blood and 
have had to wait till our own day for their resurrection in new 
form. 

Truth is mighty. But for a definite historical victory a 
given truth must depend on the class which makes that truth 
its own and fights for it. If that class is sufficiently numer- 
ous, compact, intelligent, organized, and conscious of what it 
wants, it may drive a breach through the intrenchments of 
those opposed to it and carry the cause to victory. If there 
is no such army to fight its cause, the truth will drive in- 
dividuals to a comparatively fruitless martyrdom and will 
continue to hover over humanity as a disembodied ideal. 
There were a number of reformatory movements before 1500 
which looked fully as promising and powerful as did the 
movement led by Luther in its early years ; but the fortified 

2D 



402 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

authority of the papacy and clergy succeeded in frustrating 
them, and they ebbed away again. The Lutheran and Cal- 
vinistic Reformation succeeded because they enlisted classes 
which were sufficiently strong politically and economically to 
defend the cause of Reformed Religion. It was only when 
concrete material interests entered into a working alliance 
with Truth that enough force was rallied to break down the 
frowning walls of error. On the other hand, the classes 
within which Anabaptism gained lodgement lacked that 
concrete power, and so the Anabaptist movement, which 
promised for a short time to be the real Reformation of Ger- 
many, just as it came to be the real Reformation of England 
in the Commonwealth, died a useless and despised death. In 
the French Revolution the ideal of democracy won a great 
victory, not simply because the ideal was so fair, but be- 
cause it represented the concrete interests of the strong, 
wealthy, and intelligent business class, and that class was 
able to wrest political control from the king, the aristocracy, 
and the clergy. 

The question is whether the ideal of cooperation and 
economic fraternity can to-day depend on any great and 
conquering class whose self-interest is bound up with the 
victory of that principle. It is hopeless to expect the busi- 
ness class to espouse that principle as a class. Individuals 
in the business class will do so, but the class will not. There 
is no historical precedent for an altruistic self-effacement of a 
whole class. Of the professional class it is safe to expect 
that an important minority perhaps a larger minority in 
our country than in any country heretofore will range 
themselves under the new social ideal. With them especially 
the factor of religion will prove of immense power. But 



WHAT TO DO 403 

their motives will in the main be idealistic, and in the present 
stage of man's moral development the unselfish emotions are 
fragile and easily chafe through, unless the coarse fibre of 
self-interest is woven into them. But there is another class 
to which that conception of organized fraternity is not only 
a moral ideal, but the hope for bread and butter ; with which 
it enlists not only religious devotion and self-sacrifice, but 
involves salvation from poverty and insecurity and participa- 
tion in the wealth and culture of modern life for themselves 
and their children. 

It is a mistake to regard the French Revolution as a move- 
ment of the poor. The poor fought in the uprising, but the 
movement got its strength, its purpose, and its direction from 
the "third estate," the bourgeoisie, the business class of the 
cities, and they alone drew lasting profit from it. That class 
had been slowly rising to wealth, education, and power for 
several centuries, and the democratic movement of the nine- 
teenth century has in the main been their march to complete 
ascendency. 

During the same period we can watch the slow develop- 
ment of a new class, which has been called the fourth estate : 
the city working class, the wage-workers. They form a dis- 
tinct class, all living without capital merely by the sale of 
their labor, working and living under similar physical and 
social conditions everywhere, with the same economic interests 
and the same points of view. They present a fairly homo- 
geneous body and if any section of the people forms a " class," 
they do. The massing of labor in the factories since the in- 
troduction of power machinery has brought them into close 
contact with one another. Hard experience has taught them 
how helpless they are when they stand alone. They have 



404 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

begun to realize their solidarity and the divergence of theii 
interests from those of the employers. They have begun to 
organize and are slowly learning to act together. The spread 
of education and cheap literature, the ease of communica- 
tion, and the freedom of public meeting have rapidly created 
a common body of ideas and points of view among them. 

The modern " labor movement " is the upward movement 
of this class. It began with local and concrete issues that 
pressed upon a given body of workingmen some demand for 
shorter hours or better wages, some grievance about fines or 
docking. The trades-unions were formed as defensive or- 
ganizations for collective action. It is quite true that they 
have often been foolish and tyrannical in their demands, and 
headstrong and even lawless in their actions ; but if we con- 
sider the insecurity and narrowness of the economic existence 
of the working people, and the glaring contrast between the 
meagre reward for their labor and the dazzling returns given 
to invested capital, it is impossible to deny that they have 
good cause for making a strenuous and continuous fight for 
better conditions of life. If Christian men are really in- 
terested in the salvation of human lives and in the health, 
the decency, the education, and the morality of the people, 
they must wish well to the working people in their effort to 
secure such conditions for themselves and their dear ones 
that they will not have to die of tuberculosis in their prime, 
nor feel their strength ground down by long hours of work, 
nor see their women and children drawn into the merciless 
hopper of factory labor, nor be shut out from the enjoyment 
of the culture about them which they have watered with their 
sweat. 

But the labor movement means more than better wages 



WHAT TO DO 405 

and shorter hours for individual workingmen. It involves 
the struggle for a different status for their entire class. Other 
classes have long ago won a recognized standing in law and 
custom and public opinion so long ago that they have for- 
gotten that they ever had to win it. For instance, the medical 
profession is recognized by law; certain qualifications are 
fixed for admission to it ; certain privileges are granted to those 
inside, irregular practitioners are hampered or suppressed. 
The clerical profession enjoys certain exemptions from taxa- 
tion, military service, and jury duty ; ministers have the right 
to solemnize marriages and collect fees therefore; railways 
give them half fares, and these privileges are granted to 
those whom the clergy themselves ordain and admit to their 
"closed shop." A lawyer who is admitted to the bar thereby 
becomes a court officer; the bar association, which is his 
trades-union, takes the initiative in disbarring men who 
violate the class code, and the courts take cognizance of its 
action ; in the State of New York the bar associations have 
assumed some right to nominate the judges. As for the busi- 
ness class, it is so completely enthroned in our social organiza- 
tion that it often assumes that it is itself the whole of society. 
On the other hand, the working class has no adequate 
standing as yet. It did have in the guilds of former times, 
but modern industry and modern law under the lalssez-jaire 
principle dissolved the old privileges and reduced the work- 
ing class to a mass of unrelated human atoms. Common 
action on their part was treated in law as conspiracy. In our 
country they have not yet won from their employers nor from 
public opinion the acknowledged right to be organized, to 
bargain collectively, and to assist in controlling the discipline 
of the shops in which they have to work. The law seems to 



406 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

afford them very little backing as yet. It provides penalties 
for the kind of injuries which workingmen are likely to inflict 
on their employers, but not for the subtler injuries which 
employers are likely to inflict on their workingmen. Few 
will care to assert that in the bitter conflicts waged between 
labor and capital the wrong has always been on one side. 
Yet when the law bares its sword, it is somehow always 
against one side. The militia does not seem to be ordered 
out against capital. The labor movement must go on until 
public opinion and the law have conceded a recognized posi- 
tion to the labor-unions, and until the workingmen interested 
in a given question stand collectively on a footing of equality 
with the capitalists interested in it. This means a curtail- 
ment of power for the employers, and it would be contrary to 
human nature for them to like it. But for the working class 
it would be suicidal to forego the attempt to get it. They 
have suffered fearfully by not having it. All the sacrifices 
they may bring in the chronic industrial warfare of the pres- 
ent will be cheap if they ultimately win through to an assured 
social and legal status for their class. 

As long as the working class simply attempts to better its 
condition somewhat and to secure a recognized standing for 
its class organization, it stands on the basis of the present 
capitalistic organization of industry. Capitalism necessarily 
divides industrial society into two classes, those who own 
the instruments and materials of production, and those who 
furnish the labor for it. This sharp division is the peculiar 
characteristic of modern capitalism which distinguishes it 
from other forms of social organization in the past. These two 
classes have to cooperate in modern production. The labor 
movement seeks to win better terms for the working class in 



WHAT TO DO 407 

striking its bargains. Yet whatever terms organized labor 
succeeds in winning are always temporary and insecure, like the 
hold which a wrestler gets on the body of his antagonist. The 
persistent tendency with capital necessarily is to get labor as 
cheaply as possible and to force as much work from it as pos- 
sible. Moreover, labor is always in an inferior position in the 
struggle. It is handicapped by its own hunger and lack of 
resources. It has to wrestle on its knees with a foeman who 
is on his feet. Is this unequal struggle between two con- 
flicting interests to go on forever? Is this insecurity the best 
that the working class can ever hope to attain ? 

Here enters socialism. It proposes to abolish the division 
of industrial society into two classes and to close the fatal 
chasm which has separated the employing class from the 
tforking class since the introduction of power machinery. It 
proposes to restore the independence of the workingman by 
making him once more the owner of his tools and to give him 
the full proceeds of his production instead of a wage deter- 
mined by his poverty. It has no idea of reverting to the simple 
methods of the old handicrafts, but heartily accepts the power 
machinery, the great factory, the division of labor, the organ- 
ization of the men in great regiments of workers, as estab- 
lished facts in modern life, and as the most efficient method 
of producing wealth. But it proposes to give to the whole 
body of workers the ownership of these vast instruments of 
production and to distribute among them all the entire pro- 
ceeds of their common labor. There would then be no capi- 
talistic class opposed to the working class; there would be a 
single class which would unite the qualities of both. Every 
workman would be both owner and worker, just as a farmer 
is who tills his own farm, or a housewife who works in her own 



408 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

kitchen. This would be a permanent solution of the labol 
question. It would end the present insecurity, the constant 
antagonism, the social inferiority, the physical exploitation, 
the intellectual poverty to which the working class is now 
exposed even when its condition is most favorable. 

If such a solution is even approximately feasible, it shoulq 
be hailed with joy by every patriot and Christian, for it would 
put a stop to our industrial war, drain off the miasmatic swamp 
of undeserved poverty, save our political democracy, and lift 
the great working class to an altogether different footing of 
comfort, intelligence, security and moral strength. And it 
would embody the principle of solidarity and fraternity in 
the fundamental institutions of our industrial life. All the 
elements of cooperation and interaction which are now at 
work in our great establishments would be conserved, and in 
addition the hearty interest of all workers in their common 
factory or store would be immensely intensified by the 
diffused sense of ownership. Such a social order would 
develop the altruistic and social instincts just as the com- 
petitive order brings out the selfish instincts. 

Socialism is the ultimate and logical outcome of the labor 
movement. When the entire working class throughout the 
industrial nations is viewed in a large way, the progress of 
socialism gives an impression of resistless and elemental 
power. It is inconceivable from the point of view of that 
class that it should stop short of complete independence and 
equality as long as it has the power to move on, and in- 
dependence and equality for the working class must mean the 
collective ownership of the means of production and the 
abolition of the present two-class arrangement of industrial 
society. If the labor movement in our country is only slightly 



WHAT TO DO 409 

tinged with socialism as yet, it is merely because it is still in 
its embryonic stages. Nothing will bring the working class 
to a thorough comprehension of the actual status of their 
class and its ultimate aim more quickly than continued fail- 
ure to secure their smaller demands and reactionary efforts 
to suppress their unions. 

We started out with the proposition that the ideal of a 
fraternal organization of society will remain powerless if it is 
supported by idealists only; that it needs the firm support 
of a solid class whose economic future is staked on the suc- 
cess of that ideal; and that the industrial working class is 
consciously or unconsciously committed to the struggle for 
the realization of that principle. It follows that those who 
desire the victory of that ideal from a religious point of view 
will have to enter into a working alliance with this class. Just 
as the Protestant principle of religious liberty and the demo- 
cratic principle of political liberty rose to victory by an 
alliance with the middle class which was then rising to power, 
so the new Christian principle of brotherly association must 
ally itself with the working class if both are to conquer. 
Each depends on the other. The idealistic movement alone 
would be a soul without a body; the economic class move- 
ment alone would be a body without a soul. It needs the 
high elation and faith that come through religion. Nothing 
else will call forth that self-sacrificing devotion and life-long 
fidelity which will be needed in so gigantic a struggle as lies 
before the working class. 

The cooperation of professional men outside the working 
class would contribute scientific information and trained intel- 
ligence. They would mediate between the two classes, in- 
terpreting each to the other, and thereby lessening the strain 



410 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

of hostility. Their presence and sympathy would cheer the 
working people and diminish the sense of class isolation. By 
their contact with the possessing classes they could help to 
persuade them of the inherent justice of the labor movement 
and so create a leaning toward concessions. No other influ- 
ence could do so much to prevent a revolutionary explosion 
of pent-up forces. It is to the interest of all sides that the 
readjustment of the social classes should come as a steady 
evolutionary process rather than as a social catastrophe. If 
the laboring class should attempt to seize political power 
suddenly, the attempt might be beaten back with terrible loss 
in efficiency to the movement. If the attempt should be suc- 
cessful, a raw governing class would be compelled to handle 
a situation so vast and complicated that no past revolution 
presents a parallel. There would be widespread disorder 
and acute distress, and a reactionary relapse to old conditions 
would, by all historical precedents, be almost certain to occur. 
It is devoutly to be desired that the shifting of power should 
come through a continuous series of practicable demands on 
one side and concessions on the other. Such an historical 
process will be immensely facilitated if there are a large 
number of men in the professional and business class with 
whom religious and ethical motives overcome their selfish 
interests so that they will throw their influence on the side of 
the class which is now claiming its full rights in the family 
circle of humanity. 

On the other hand, the Christian idealists must not make the 
mistake of trying to hold the working class down to the use of 
moral suasion only, or be repelled when they hear the brule 
note of selfishness and anger. The class struggle is bound 
to be transferred to the field of politics in our country in 



WHAT TO DO 411 

some form. It would be folly if the working class failed to 
use the leverage which their political power gives them. The 
business class has certainly never failed to use political means 
to further its interests. This is a war of conflicting interests 
which is not likely to be fought out in love and tenderness. 
The possessing class will make concessions not in brotherly 
love but in fear, because it has to. The working class will 
force its demands, not merely because they are just, but 
because it feels it cannot do without them, and because it is 
strong enough to coerce. Even Bismarck acknowledged that 
the former indifference of the business class in Germany to 
the sufferings of the lower classes had not been overcome by 
philanthropy, but by fear of the growing discontent of the 
people and the spread of social democracy. Max Nordau 
meant the same when he said, "In spite of its theoretical 
absurdity, socialism has already in thirty years wrought 
greater amelioration than all the wisdom of statesmen and 
philosophers of thousands of years." All that we as Chris- 
tian men can do is to ease the struggle and hasten the victory 
of the right by giving faith and hope to those who are down, 
and quickening the sense of justice with those who are in 
power, so that they will not harden their hearts and hold 
Israel in bondage, but will "let the people go." But that 
spiritual contribution, intangible and imponderable though it 
be, has a chemical power of immeasurable efficiency. 

We undertook in this chapter to suggest in what ways the Summary 
moral forces latent in Christian society could be mobilized 
for the progressive regeneration of social life, and in what 
directions chiefly these forces should be exerted. 

We saw that some lines of effort frequently attempted in 



412 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

the past by Christian men and organizations are useless and 
misleading. It is fruitless to attempt to turn modern society 
back to conditions prevailing before power machinery and 
trusts had revolutionized it; or to copy biblical institutions 
adapted to wholly different social conditions ; or to postpone 
the Christianizing of society to the millennium; or to found 
Christian communistic colonies within the competitive world ; 
or to make the organized Church the centre and manager of 
an improved social machinery. The force of religion can best 
be applied to social renewal by sending its spiritual power 
along the existing and natural relations of men to direct 
them to truer ends and govern them by higher motives. 

The fundamental contribution of every man is the change 
of his own personality. We must repent of the sins of exist- 
ing society, cast off the spell of the lies protecting our social 
wrongs, have faith in a higher social order, and realize in 
ourselves a new type of Christian manhood which seeks to 
overcome the evil in the present world, not by withdrawing 
from the world, but by revolutionizing it. 

If this new type of religious character multiplies among 
the young men and women, they will change the world when 
they come to hold the controlling positions of society in their 
maturer years. They will give a new force to righteous and 
enlightened public opinion, and will apply the religious sense 
of duty and service to the common daily life with a new motive 
and directness. 

The ministry, in particular, must apply the teaching func- 
tions of the pulpit to the pressing questions of public morality. 
It must collectively learn not to speak without adequate in- 
formation ; not to charge individuals with guilt in which all 
society shares; not to be partial, and yet to be on the side 



WHAT TO DO 413 

of the lost; not to yield to political partisanship, but to deal 
with moral questions before they become political issues and 
with those questions of public welfare which never do become 
political issues. They must lift the social questions to a re- 
ligious level by faith and spiritual insight. The larger the 
number of ministers who attempt these untrodden ways, the 
safer and saner will those be who follow. By interpreting 
one social class to the other, they can create a disposition to 
make concessions and help in securing a peaceful settlement 
of social issues. 

The force of the religious spirit should be bent toward as- 
serting the supremacy of life over property. Property exists 
to maintain and develop life. It is unchristian to regard 
human life as a mere instrument for the production of 
wealth. 

The religious sentiment can protect good customs and 
institutions against the inroads of ruthless greed, and extend 
their scope. It can create humane customs which the law 
is impotent to create. It can create the convictions and 
customs which are later embodied in good legislation. 

Our complex society rests largely on the stewardship of 
delegated powers. The opportunities to profit by the be- 
trayal of trust increase with the wealth and complexity of 
civilization. The most fundamental evils in past history and 
present conditions were due to converting stewardship into 
ownership. The keener moral insight created by Christian- 
ity should lend its help in scrutinizing all claims to property 
and power in order to detect latent public rights and to recall 
the recreant stewards to their duty. 

Primitive society was communistic. The most valuable in- 
stitutions in modern life the family, the school and church 



414 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

are communistic. The State, too, is essentially communistic 
and is becoming increasingly so. During the larger part of 
its history the Christian Church regarded communism as the 
only ideal life. Christianity certainly has more affinity for 
cooperative and fraternal institutions than for competitive 
disunion. It should therefore strengthen the existing com- 
munistic institutions and aid the evolution of society from the 
present temporary stage of individualism to a higher form of 
communism. 

The splendid ideal of a fraternal organization of society 
cannot be realized by idealists only. It must be supported by 
the self-interest of a powerful class. The working class, which 
is now engaged in its upward movement, is struggling to 
secure better conditions of life, an assured status for its class 
organizations, and ultimately the ownership of the means of 
production. Its success in the last great aim would mean 
the closing of the gap which now divides industrial society 
and the establishment of industry on the principle of solidarity 
and the method of cooperation. Christianity should enter 
into a working alliance with this rising class, and by its media- 
tion secure the victory of these principles by a gradual equali- 
zation of social opportunity and power. 

The new The first apostolate of Christianity was born from a deep 
,ipos e f e n ow _f ee ij n g f or soc j a i misery anc j f rom the consciousness of 



a great historical opportunity. Jesus saw the peasantry of 
Galilee following him about with their poverty and their 
diseases, like shepherdless sheep that have been scattered and 
harried by beasts of prey, and his heart had compassion on 
them. He felt that the harvest was ripe, but there were few 
to reap it. Past history had come to its culmination, but 



WHAT TO DO 415 

there were few who understood the situation and were pre- 
pared to cope with it. He bade his disciples to pray for 
laborers for the harvest, and then made them answer their 
own prayers by sending them out two by two to proclaim the 
kingdom of God That was the beginning of the world-wide 
mission of Christianity. 1 

The situation is repeated on a vaster scale to-day. If 
Jesus stood to-day amid our modern life, with that outlook 
on the condition of all humanity which observation and travel 
and the press would spread before him, and with the same 
heart of divine humanity beating in him, he would create a 
new apostolate to meet the new needs in a new harvest-time 
of history. 

To any one who knows the sluggishness of humanity to 
good, the impregnable intrenchments of vested wrongs and the 
long reaches of time needed from one milestone of progress 
to the next, the task of setting up a Christian social order in 
this modern world of ours seems like a fair and futile dream. 
Yet in fact it is not one tithe as hopeless as when Jesus set 
out to do it. When he told his disciples, " Ye are the salt of 
the earth; ye are the light of the world," he expressed the 
consciousness ot a great historic mission to the whole of 
humanity. Yet it was a Nazarene carpenter speaking to a 
group of Galilaean peasants and fishermen. Under the cir- 
cumstances at that time it was an utterance of the most dar- 
ing faith, faith in himself, faith in them, faith in what he 
was putting into them, faith in faith. Jesus failed and was 
crucified, first his body by his enemies, and then his spirit by 
his friends ; but that failure was so amazing a success that to- 
day it takes an effort on our part to realize that it required any 

1 See Matthew 9. 32-10. 42. 



4l6 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

faith on his part to inaugurate the kingdom of God and U 
send out his apostolate. 

To-day, as Jesus looks out upon humanity, his spirit must 
leap to see the souls responsive to his call. They are sown 
broadcast through humanity, legions of them. The harvest- 
field is no longer deserted. All about us we hear the clang 
of the whetstone and the rush of the blades through the 
grain and the shout of the reapers. With all our faults and 
our slothfulness we modern men in many ways are more on a 
level with the real mind of Jesus than any generation that 
has gone before. If that first apostolate was able to remove 
mountains by the power of faith, such an apostolate as Christ 
could now summon might change the face of the earth. 

The apostolate of a new age must do the work of the sower. 
When the sower goes forth to sow his seed, he goes with the 
certainty of partial failure and the knowledge that a long time 
of patience and of hazard will intervene before he can hope 
to see the result of his work and his venture. In sowing the 
truth a man may never see or trace the results. The more 
ideal his conceptions are, and the farther they move ahead o( 
his time, the larger will be the percentage of apparent failure. 
But he can afford to wait. The powers of life are on his side. 
He is like a man who has scattered his seed and then goes off 
to sleep by night and work by day, and all the while the seed, 
by the inscrutable chemistry of life, lays hold of the ingredients 
of its environment and builds them up to its own growth. 
The mustard-seed becomes a tree. The leaven assimilates 
the meal by biological processes. The new life penetrate? 
the old humanity and transforms it. Robert Owen was a 
sower. His cooperative communities failed. He was able to 
help only a small fraction of the workingmen of his day. But 



WHAT TO DO 417 

his moral enthusiasm and his ideas fertilized the finest and 
most self-sacrificing minds among the working classes. They 
cherished his ultimate hopes in private and worked for realiz- 
able ends in public. The Chartist movement was filled with 
his spirit. The most influential leaders of English unionism 
in its great period after the middle of the nineteenth century 
were Owenites. The Rochdale Pioneers were under his in- 
fluence, and the great cooperative movement in England, an 
economic force of the first importance, grew in some measure 
out of the seed which Owen had scattered. Other men may 
own the present. The future belongs to the sower pro- 
vided he scatters seed and does not mistake the chaff for it 
which once was so essential to the seed and now is dead and 
useless. 

It is inevitable that those who stand against conditions in 
which most men believe and by which the strongest profit, 
shall suffer for their stand. The little group of early Chris- 
tian socialists in England, led by Maurice, Kingsley, and 
Hughes, now stand by common consent in the history of that 
generation as one of its finest products, but at that time they 
were bitterly assailed and misunderstood. Pastor Rudolf 
Todt, the first man in Germany who undertook to prove 
that the New Testament and the ethics of socialism have a 
close affinity, was almost unanimously attacked by the Church 
of Germany. But Jesus told his apostles at the outset that 
opposition would be part of their day's work. Christ 
equipped his Church with no legal rights to protect her; the 
only political right he gave his disciples was the right of being 
persecuted. 1 It is part of the doctrine of vicarious atonement, 
which is fundamental in Christianity, that the prophetic souls 

1 Nathusius, "Mitarbeil der Kirche," p 476. 
2B 



41 8 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

must vindicate by their sufferings the truth of the truth they 
preach. 

"Disappointment's dry and bitter root, 
Envy's harsh berries, and the choking pool 
Of the world's scorn, are the right mother-milk 
To the tough hearts that pioneer their kind 
And break a pathway to those unknown realms 
That in the earth's broad shadow lie enthralled; 
Endurance is the crowning quality, 
And patience all the passion of great hearts; 
These are their stay, and when the leaden world 
Sets its hard face against their fateful thought, 
And brute strength, like a scornful conqueror, 
Clangs his huge mace down in the other scale, 
The inspired soul but flings his patience in, 
And slowly that outweighs the ponderous globe, 
One faith against a whole earth's unbelief, 
One soul against the flesh of all mankind." 1 

The championship of social justice is almost the only way left 
open to a Christian nowadays to gain the crown of martyr- 
dom. Theological heretics are rarely persecuted now. The 
only rival of God is mammon, and it is only when his sacred 
name is blasphemed that men throw the Christians to the 
lions. 

Even for the social heretics there is a generous readiness 
to listen which was unknown in the past. In our country that 
openness of mind is a product of our free intellectual life, 
our ingrained democracy, the denominational manifoldness of 
our religious life, and the spread of the Christian spirit. It 
has become an accepted doctrine among us that all great 
movements have obscure beginnings, and that belief tends to 
1 James Russell Lowell, " Columbus." 



WHAT TO DO 419 

make men respectful toward anything that comes from some 
despised Nazareth. Unless a man forfeits respect by bitter- 
ness or lack of tact, he is accorded a large degree of tolerance, 
though he will always be made to feel the difference between 
himself and those who say the things that please the great. 
The certainty of opposition constitutes a special call to the 
strong. The ministry seems to have little attraction for the 
sons of rich men. It is not strange when one considers the 
enervating trials that beset a rich man in a pastorate. But 
here is a mission that ought to appeal to the rich young man 
if he has heroic stuff in him. His assured social standing 
would give him an influence with rich and poor alike which 
others attain but slowly if at all. The fear of being black- 
listed for championing justice and mercy need have no ter- 
rors for him. To use his property as a coal of mail in fight- 
ing the battles of the weak would be the best way of obeying 
Christ's command to the rich young ruler to sell all and give 
it to the poor. When Mr. Roosevelt was still Police Com- 
missioner in New York, he said to the young men of New 
York: "I would teach the young men that he who has not 
wealth owes his first duty to his family, but he who has means 
owes his to the State. It is ignoble to go on heaping up money. 
I would preach the doctrine of work to all, and to the men of 
wealth the doctrine of unremunerative work." 1 The most 
"unremunerative work" is the work that draws opposition 
and animosity. 

Mr. Roosevelt implies here that a man's duty to his family 

is the first and dominant duty, and that this exempts him in 

some measure from service to the larger public. It follows 

that the childless have a call to the dangerous work of the 

1 Jacob A Riis, "Theodore Roosevelt, the Citizen." 



420 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

kingdom of God. A man and woman who are feeding and 
training young citizens are performing so immense and 
absorbing a service to the future that they might well be 
exempt from taxes to the State and from sacrificial service to 
the kingdom of God. If nevertheless so many of them as- 
sume these duties in addition, the childless man and woman 
will have to do heroic work in the trenches before they can 
rank on the same level. It is not fair to ask a man with chil- 
dren to give his time and strength as freely to public causes as 
if he had none. It is still more unfair to expect him to risk the 
bread and the prospects of his family in championing danger- 
ous causes as freely as if he risked only himself. The child- 
less people should adopt the whole coming generation of chil- 
dren and fight to make the world more habitable for them 
as for their own brood. The unmarried and the childless 
should enlist in the new apostolate and march on the forlorn 
hopes with Jesus Christ. 

In asking for faith in the possibility of a new social order, 
we ask for no Utopian delusion. We know well that there 
is no perfection for man in this life* there is only growth 
toward perfection. In personal religion we look with sea- 
soned suspicion at any one who claims to be holy and per- 
fect, yet we always tell men to become holy and to seek per- 
fection. We make it a duty to seek what is unattainable. 
We have the same paradox in the perfectibility of society. 
We shall never have a perfect social life, yet we must seek 
it with faith. We shall never abolish suffering. There will 
always be death and the empty chair and heart. There will 
always be the agony of love unreturned. Women will long 
for children and never press baby lips to their breast. Men 
will long for fame and miss it. Imperfect moral insight will 



WHAT TO DO 421 

work hurt in the best conceivable social order. The strong 
will always have the impulse to exert their strength, and no 
system can be devised which can keep them from crowding 
and jostling the weaker. Increased social refinement will 
bring increased sensitiveness to pain. An American may suffer 
as much distress through a social slight as a Russian peasant 
under the knout. At best there is always but an approxima- 
tion to a perfect social order. The kingdom of God is always 
but coming. 

But every approximation to it is worth while. Every step 
toward personal purity and peace, though it only makes the 
consciousness of imperfection more poignant, carries its own 
exceeding great reward, and everlasting pilgrimage toward the 
kingdom of God is better than contented stability in the tents 
of wickedness. 

And sometimes the hot hope surges up that perhaps the 
long and slow climb may be ending. In the past the steps of 
our race toward progress have been short and feeble, and 
succeeded by long intervals of sloth and apathy. But is that 
necessarily to remain the rate of advance ? In the intellectual 
life there has been an unprecedented leap forward during 
the last hundred years. Individually we are not more gifted 
than our grandfathers, but collectively we have wrought out 
more epoch-making discoveries and inventions in one cen- 
tury than the whole race in the untold centuries that have 
gone before. If the twentieth century could do for us in the 
control of social forces what the nineteenth did for us in the 
control of natural forces, our grandchildren would live in a 
society that would be justified in regarding our present social 
life as semi-barbarous. Since the Reformation began to free 
the mind and to direct the force of religion toward morality, 



422 CHRISTIANITY AND THE SOCIAL CRISIS 

there has been a perceptible increase of speed. Humanity 
is gaining in elasticity and capacity for change, and every 
gain in general intelligence, in organizing capacity, in physical 
and moral soundness, and especially in responsiveness to ideal 
motives, again increases the ability to advance without dis- 
astrous reactions. The swiftness of evolution in our own 
country proves the immense latent perfectibility in human 
nature. 

Last May a miracle happened. At the beginning of the 
week the fruit trees bore brown and greenish buds. At the 
end of the week they were robed in bridal garments of blos- 
som. But for weeks and months the sap had been rising and 
distending the cells and maturing the tissues which were half 
ready in the fall before. The swift unfolding was the cul- 
mination of a long process. Perhaps these nineteen cen- 
turies of Christian influence have been a long preliminary 
stage of growth, and now the flower and fruit arc almost 
here. If at this juncture we can rally sufficient religious faith 
and moral strength to snap the bonds of evil and turn the 
present unparalleled economic and intellectual resources of 
humanity to the harmonious development of a true social life, 
the generations yet unborn will mark this as that great day 
of the Lord for which the ages waited, and count us blessed 
for sharing in the apostolate that proclaimed it. 



INDEX 



Adulteration of goods, 969. 
Alcoholism, 

"The Recessional of Alcohol, ' 238 

Social drinking customs, 376 
America, 

Our industrial revolution, 218, 219 

Schmoller, on American plutocracy, 
219. 

Social equality a charm of American 
life. 248, 249. 

Growth of classes, 250 

Sympathy between nch and poor, 251 

The crumbling of democracy, 253- 
264. 

Religious spirit of our social move- 
ment, 322, 323 

Increasing alienation of the workers 

from the Church, 329, 330. 
Amos, the prophet, 24, 36. 
Anabaptism, 401, 402. 
Apocalypse of John, 

Its veiled allusions, 96. 

Its revolutionary essence, 99. 

Its millennial hope, 105 

Contains the orthodox eschatology of 
primitive Christianity, 106. 

No reference to papal Rome, 109. 
Apocalypticism, 

Its ongin and character, 35, 36. 

Its visionary character, 112. 
Apostolate, 

The first, 414 

The boldness of its creation, 415. 

The new apostolate, 414-422. 

Its work as a sower, 4x6. 

Its persecution, 4x7-419. 
Aristotle, 253. 
Asceticism, 

Not Christian in origin, 164. 

Its influence on marriage, 165-167 

Its attitude to property, 167-170. 



Connection with the Idea of "merit,** 
168. 

Its stimulus to charitable giving, 169. 

Modern disappearance of it, 204. 

See also " Monasticism." 
Assyrian Power, 24. 
Athanasian Creed, 178. 

Barnabas, Epistle of, 178. 
Bible, 

New comprehension through the re- 
vival of learning, 45. 

New social interpretation, 45, 208. 

Blurring of its social contents, xoa, 
196, 197. 

Misuse of its social contents, 345. 
Bismarck, 411. 
Brook Farm, 353. 
Brooks, John Graham, 351. 

Capitalism, 

Its fictions, 350. 

Its two-class system, 406, 407. 
Carlyle, Thomas, 338, 339. 
Carnegie, Andrew, 379. 
Catholic Church, Roman, its faflwncB 

against democracy, 192. 
Ceremonialism, Religious, 

In primitive religions, 4. 

Opposed by the Hebrew prophets, 
5~7' 

Christ's indifference to it, 71-73. 

Relapse of Christianity to it, 176, 177, 

Its paralyzing influence on ethical 
force, 177. 

Weakening of it in modern life, 205. 
Childless, The social duty of the, 419. 
Chnst, see Jesus 
Church, The Christian, 

Its failure to accomplish social i 
struction, 143210. 



423 



424 



INDEX 



Its victory in the ancient world, 143 
Its power in the Middle Ages, 144. 
Its influence in modern life, 145 
Its social effects, 147. 
Their exaggeration, 148, 149. 
Unintentional character of its effects, 

15 

The theory of indirectness, 150-152 
The churchhness of Christianity, 179- 

186 
The churchhness of Christian ethics, 

180-181 
Substituted for the kingdom of God, 

181, 182 
Absorbing Christian beneficence, 182, 

and organizing ability, 183 
Disparaging services to the State, 183 
Its conflicts for its own supremacy, 

184 

Permanent value of the Church, 185 
Ear]} democracy of its organization, 
190, and the influence of the Em- 
pire on it, 191 
Reciprocal relation between Church 

and State, 192, 193 
Ignorance of scientific sociology, 194- 

198 

Diminution of churchhness, 206 
Tendency toward democratic or- 
ganization, 208 
Its stake in the, social movement, 287- 

342 
Land prices and Church extension, 

288, 289 

The shifting of population, 290, 291 
The income of the modern Church, 

291-298 

Withdrawal of the poo-, 293, 294 
Influence of rich members, 294, 295 
Segregation of the rich, 295, 296 
Denominational importance of rich 

givers v 296, 297 

Influence of Church finances on con- 
stitution and doctrine, 298 
The Church and poverty, 304, 305 
The institutional Church, 304, 305 
The Church and its human material, 

305-308 

The Church and the working class, 
319-331 



Attitude to strikes and violence, 324 

329 
The forward call in the present crisis, 

332-342 
Not the sole agent or beneficiary of 

the social movement, 347 
Absorption of religious energy, 354, 

355 
Ideal relation of Church and State, 

380 
Its teaching on stewardship, 387, 

388 
Its possible alliance with the working 

class, 409-411 
Civih/ation, 
Decay of past civilizations, 279, 

280 
Decay of Graeco-Roman civilization, 

280-283 
Causes for the decline of nations, 

284 

Coming of the Lord, Second, 
Intensity of the expectation, 103. 
Its social significance, 103 
Paul's spnitualizing view 104 
The hope of the millennium, 105; 

its disappearance, 106, its social 

contents, 106, its revolutionary 

character, 108-111 
Disturbing influence at Thessalonica, 

133 
Postponement of social emancipation, 

I53-I5S, 202, 345 
Modern millenniahsm, 202 
Commercialism, its ethics hostile to 

Christianity, 308-317. 
Communism, 
Primitive communism in land, 14-16, 

221 
Christian communism at Jerusalem, 

120-123 

Monastic communism, 170. 
Our homestead system a form ol 

land communism, 223 
Communistic colonies no solution of 

the social question, 346 
T on/ the Christian ideal, 388. 
The earliest basis of civilization, 

388 
Not abandoned as inefficient, 389. 



INDEX 



425 



The home, the school, and the Church 

as communistic institutions, 390. 
The State communistic in its nature, 

391-393 

Historical progress toward commu- 
nism, 391-395 

Not incompatible with private prop- 
erty, 396 

Affinity of Christianity, 397-400 
Consumption, Engel's law of, 293. 
Courts, 

Control of, 258. 

Question of their integrity, 259 
Covetousness, fostered by competitive 

commerce, 265. 
Cromwell Oliver, 254 
Customs, 

Creation of, 372-377. 

Beyond the law, 373-375. 

Democracy, 

In early Israel, 13-14. 16-17. 

Church democracy, 190, 308 

The crumbling of democracy in 

Amenca, 253-264. 
Conditioned by economic equality, 

254, 262. 

Corroded by capitalism, 254-256. 
Demons, early Christian belief in them, 

156, 157- 

Desmouhns, Camille, 89. 
Dives and Lazarus, Parable of, 80. 
Dogma, 

Its deflecting influence, 178, 179 

Regarded as the essence of Chris- 
tianity, 178. 

Diminution of dogmatism, 206. 

Elijah and Ahab, 17. 
Eliot, President, 236. 
Ely, R T , 213, 292. 
Engel, Ernst, his law of consumption, 

292 
Equality, 

The basis of morality, 247, 248. 

Social equality compatible with 
natural inequality, 248 

A charm of American life, 248, and 
now disappearing, 249 

Division into classes, 250. 



Failure of sympathy between rich 
and poor, 251, 252. 

Theories justifying inequality, 253 

Economic equality the condition of 
democracy, 254, 262 

Unequal distribution of wealth, 263 
Eschatology, see "Coming of the Lord " 
Evangelicalism, its lack jf propnetic 

power, 338 

Evangelization, social, 352-357. 
Ezekicl, 30, 37. 

Family, The, 271-279 

The basis of society, 271, 272. 

Decrease of marriages, 272. 

Evils of involuntary celibacy, 272. 

Increasing childlessness, 273, caused 
by economic fear, 273, 274 

The sterility of the best, 274 

The decrease of home influences, 
275, and of home ownership, 276. 

See "Marriage " 
Francis, of Assisi, 76, 93. 
Future Life, see "Immortality." 

Gaham, 353 
Gambling, 266. 
Garibaldi, 337. 
George, Henry, 289, 354. 
Gilman, N P., 239. 

Hague Tribunal, 378, 379. 

Harnack, Professor, 112, 132, 156,998. 

Harte, Bret, 270 

Hase, Karl, author of the first scientific 

life of Christ, 46 
Heath, Richard, 298, 329. 
Hebrews, 

Primitive democracy, 13-14. 

Humane laws, 20-21 

Hebrew Prophets, see "Prophets." 
Hubmaier, Balthasar, 401 
Hunter, Robert, 247. 
Hymnology, Christian, lack of the 

social hope, 163. 

Immortality, 

Absence of the belief in Israel, 17-18. 
Intense hope for it in the Greek 
world, 107, 160-163 



426 



INDEX 



The individual and wetic character 

of the hope, 162, 163. 
Its prevalence m the hymns of the 

Church, 163 

Its influence on social conduct, 164 
Diminution of other-worldhness, 203 
individualism, Religious, 27-32. 
Influence of Jeremiah, 27 
A decline in religion, 29-30 
Industrial Revolution, 213-220 

Failure of the moral forces in it, 

218. 
Mitigation of its effects in Europe, 

2x8 

Its late effects in America, 218, 219 
Institutions, their creation by religion, 

377-379- 
Isaiah, 

Political insight, 9 
His offer of pardon, xo 

James, Epistle of, its social spirit, 98 

Jesus, 

The social aims of, 44-92 
First scientific life, by Hase, 46 
Not a social reformer, 46-48 
Not merely a teacher of morality, 47, 

48. 
His relation to John the Baptist, 49, 

52. 

His relation to the prophets, 53. 
His purpose the kingdom of God, 

54-66. See "Kingdom of God " 
His ethics, 67-71 
His sociability, 69 
His indifference to ritual, 71-73. 
His teaching on wealth, 74-82 
His parable of the steward, 78-80 
Parable of Dives and Lazarus, 80 
Luke's report of his social teachings, 

80-82. 

His sympathy with the poor, 82-85 
His revolutionary consciousness, 85- 

91. 
His attitude to the religious leaders, 

86; to the civil authorities, 86. to 

taxation, 87 
The fundamental epoch in history, 

112 
Teaching on stewardship, 381. 



His faith in creating the apostolate, 

414-415 

Jewish Christianity, 
Its early importance, 101. 
Disappearance of its literature, 98- 

X02 

Its social spint, 98-101. 
John the Baptist, 

The beginner of the Christian move- 
ment, 49 
A successor of the Hebrew prophets, 

49- 

His definition of repentance, 50 
The restoration of the theocracy his 

aim, 51 

The cause of his death, 52 
The attitude of Jesus to him, 52. 
Jubilee, Year of, 22 
Judaism, Post-Exilic, 31. 

Kautsky, Karl, 133 

Kautzsch, Professor, n 

Kingdom of God, 

The centre of Christ's teaching, 54 
Disappearance of the idea, 55 
Various contemporary conceptions of 

it, 56 
Chnst's adoption and modification 

of the idea, 57-64 
Always a social hope, 65, 66 
Its relation to the ethics of Jesus, 67- 

7i 
Kingsley, Charles, 271, 417. 

Land, The, 

Its distribution fundamental in na- 
tional life, 220, 221, 229 

Our Amencan land system, 221. 

Primitive communism in land, 14-17, 
221 

Influence of Roman law, 222, 223 

Our homestead system, 223 

Future of our farming population, 
224, 225 

Mining lands, 226 

City land and its value, 226-229. 

Land robbery, 230 

Influence of land prices on Church 

life, 288 289 
Laveleye, mile de, 89, 192, 193, 357 



INDEX 



427 



Law, limited influence of, 373-375 
Law, The Hebrew, 

Relation to the prophets, 18 

Sanction of slavery, 19 

On the land, 19-20 

Its humanity, 20-21. 
Lawson, Sir Wilfred, 247. 
Laymen, 

Lay workers in the Church, 299, 

300 

Lincoln, Abraham, 254 
Longfellow's "The Village Black- 
smith," 216 

Lowell, James Russell, 89, 418 
Luke, his report of the social teachings 

of Christ, 80-82 
Luther, 325, 333, 334 
Luxury, stimulated by unearned wealth, 

267, 268 

Macaulay, Thomas Babmgton, 351 
Machinery, 

First effects of its invention, 214- 
218 

Its importance in industrial society, 
230 

Controlled by a small class, 231 
Marriage, 

Disturbing influence of early Chris- 
tianity on it, 135 

Influence of asceticism, 165-167 

See "The Family " 
Mathews, Shailer, 44 
Maunce, Frederick Denison, 271, 417 
Mercantile Inspection Law, 256, 261 
Militarism, 350 
Mill, John Stuart, 233 
Millennium, see "Coming of the Lord " 
Mining, 

Anthracite mines, 226 

Mining rights in the nature of a pub- 
he franchise, 386. 
Ministry, The, 

Recruited from the middle class, 301 

Its spint impaired, 301, 302 

Its honor lessened, 302 

Ministers as proletarians, 302 

Exit from the ministry difficult, 303 

Its teaching on social questions, 357- 
369- 



Missions, Foreign, 

Impeded by our social evils, 317, 318. 
Their inspiration to the Church, 

336 

Monasticism, 170-175 
Its effort to establish ideal communi- 
ties, 170 
Its absorption of organizing ability, 

171, 174 
Its beneficent social effects, 171, and 

their unintentional character, 172 
Its isolation of the best characters, 

173 

Its drain on civil society, 173 
Sterilizing of the best individuals, 174. 
Modern disappearance of it, 304. 
See also "Asceticism " 
Moody, Dwight L , 337. 

Nero, no 

Netherlands, The, 335. 

Nicholas, Czar, 378 

Nietzsche, F , 315 

Nineteenth Century, a parable of its 

failure, 211-213. 
Nordau, Max, 4x1. 

Owen, Robert, 416. 

Parks, Public, 377 
Paul, 

His preponderance in the New Test*- 
ment, 102 

His social conservatism, 102. 

Lack of the millennial hope in his 
programme, 104 

His attitude to the Empire, no. 

Attitude to slavery, 153 
Peabody, Francis G , 44 
Pessimism of the Hebrew prophets, 

36-41 

Philips, Stephen, 379. 
Poverty, 

Its permanent causes, 913. 

Origin of modern poverty, 114. 

Character created by, 306. 

Religious lethargy of, 307. 
Primitive Christianity, 

Its social impetus, 93-142. 

Its failure to understand Jesus, 93-95 



428 



INDEX 



Limitations of our information about 

it, 95-'3 

Concealment of its social hope, 95, 96 
Disappearance of its literature, 96 
Hostility to the Roman Empire, 109- 

iii, 136-139, IS5-I57, 203 
Political consciousness of, 111-116 
Its society-making force, 116-120 
Raising the moral standard, 117 
Intensity of its fellowship, 118 
Its churches as social communities, 

"9-133 

Its common meals, 123-125 

Social use of its income, 125, 126 

Social character of its Church offi- 
cers, 126-120 

Its charitable helpfulness, 129-133 

Its democratic leaven, 133-140 

Impossibility of a social propa- 
ganda, 152, 153, 201 

Its moral limitations and their per- 
petuation, 158-160 
Property, see "Wealth" 
Prophetism, 

Rise of, 23, 337 

Influence of the Philistine War, 23 
Prophets, Hebrew, 1-43. 

Not antiquated, i 

Present influence, 2-3 

Their religion ethical, 4-8 

Protest against ritual religion, 5 

Public interests, 8-n, 22. 

Political influence, 9 

Sympathy with the poor, 11-22 

Spiritual evolution, 22-27 

Their hope of national perfection, 
32-36 

Their ideal not Utopian, 33, 34 

The descent to apocalypticism, 35, 

36 

Their pessimism, 36-41 

The "false prophets," 38 

Their ideals realized by others, 40 

Their rise above soothsaying, 337 
Public opinion, 

Its untrustworthmess, 260 

Tampering with its organs, 260, 

261 
Pulpit, The, and the social question, 

357-3 6 9- 



Reformation, The, 333, 334 
Repentance, 

Social, 349-3S 2 
Return of the Lord, see "Coming of tht 

Lord " 

Rus, Jacob A , 255 
Ritualism, see "Ceremonialism" 
Roberts, Evan, 337 
Rochester, N Y , 

Proportion of unmarried men and 
women, 272 

Proportion of homes owned, 276. 
Rogers, Thorold, 233 
Roman Empire, 

Hostility of primitive Christianity to 
it, 109-111, 136-139, 155-157, 203 

Paul's attitude to, no 

The Empire and the Church, 114 

Impossibility of a Christian social 
propaganda, 152, 201 

Christian opposition to its morality, 

i55 
Believed to be under demon powers, 

156, 157 

See also "The State" 
Roman Law, 21 
Rome, Burning of, no, in 
Roosevelt, Theodore, 255, 378, 386, 419. 
Ruler, The rich young, 75-78 
The story in the Gospel according to 
the Hebrews, 100 

Sacramentalism, see "Ceremonialism." 

Savonarola, 335 

Schiller, Hermann, historian of Rome, 

132 
Second Coming, see "Coming of the 

Lord" 
Slavery, 

Social unrest among the Christian 
slaves, 135 

Impossibility of an anti-slavery agi- 
tation, 152, 153 

Paul's attitude to emancipation, 153. 
Smith, George Adam, 24, 26, 43. 
Spahr, Charles B , 263 
Socialism, the logical outcome of the 

labor movement, 406-409. 
Sociology, 

Lack of it m the past, 194-198. 



IKDEX 



420 



Modern scientific comprehension, 208. 
State, The, 

Subservience of the Church to the, 

186-190 
The representative of things as they 

are, 186 
Ideal relation of the Church to the 

State, i6, 380 
Their historical relation, 183, 184, 

187, 192, 193 

Exclusion of the people from govern- 
ment, 188-190 
Primitive Christian hostility to, 109- 

iii, 136-139, I55-I57, 203 
Modern attitude to it, 203 
Modern separation of Church and 

State, 207 

State control of corporations, 386 
See alw " Roman Empire " 
Steward, Parable of the, 78-80 
Stewaidship, 

Jesus' teaching on, 381 
Prevalence in complex society, 382 
Historical cases of abuse of steward- 
ship, 383, 384 

Modern "grafting," 383-386. 
Stocktr, Pastor Adolf, 370 
Strikes, 

Their number, 239 
Hatred bred by them, 239 
Attitude of the Church in, 324-329. 
Strike-breaking, 326 
Sweden, 335 

Taxation, 

Attitude of Jesus to, 87. 

Inequality of, 256-258. 
Thomson, W. M , 84. 
Tithing, 292 
Todt, Pastor Rudolf, 417. 

Verestchagm, 350 

Wapes, 

The downward movement in poverty, 

231 
Their purchasing power, and their 

justice, 232, 233. 
War, 350 
Wealth, 
Christ's teaching on, 74-82. 



Its dangers, 74, 75 

Case of the young ruler, 75-78. 

Unequal distribution of, 263 

The Chnstian conception of, 369-373. 

Stewardship of, 380-388 

Its duty of unremunerative work, 

419 

Welsh revival, 337. 
Wichf, John, 334 
Woman, 

The disturbing sense of Christian 
equality, 134 

Her economic condition, 276, 277. 

Her physical exploitation, 277 

Her moral danger, 278 
Workers, The, 

Influence of work on character, 234. 

Lack of pride and interest, 234, 235. 

Fear, their only motive, 235 

Insecunty in age, 236 

Their retained wages. 236 

The degradation of charity, 238 

Corruption in times of crisis, 238. 

Hatred created by strikes, 238, 239, 

Their physical decline, 239-247 

Congestion in the cities, 240 

Rise in their food prices, 240 

Consumption of their energy, 241 

Their mutilation by industrial acci- 
dents, 243-246 

Increase of chronic poverty, 246, 247. 

The Church and the working class, 

3I9-33I 
Religious nature of their movements, 

3*9 

Indifference and hostility to the 
Church, 320-322, 329-331 

Class feeling in stnkes, 326-329. 

The upward movement of the work- 
ing class, 400-414 

Relation of idealists to their move- 
ment, 400. 

The need of a class movement, 401- 
404 

A legal status for labor organizations, 
405 

Socialism the outcome of the labor 
movement, 406-409 

Danger of a premature social catas- 
trophe, 410. 



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